World Facts

Saint Patrick's Day - Holidays Around The World

Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated annually on March 17th.

Background

Saint Patrick’s Day, also known as the Feast of Saint Patrick, is a celebration which takes place on March 17th to celebrate the death of St. Patrick who is regarded a patron saint in Ireland. St. Patrick was born around 385 AD and died on March 17th, 461. This holiday, however, began as an ordinary religious festival back in the 17th century but over time it became a celebration which takes place in many parts of the world.

Origin of the Holiday

Born in the 4th century in Roman Britain in a wealthy family, St. Patrick’s birth name is said to be Maewyn. He had a deacon for a father while his grandfather worked as a priest in a Christian Church. Patrick was kidnapped by raiders, and he was taken to Gaelic Ireland when he was sixteen. As a slave at Gaelic Ireland, he became a shepherd, and during this time it is when it is said that he “found God.” He was a slave for six years but finally managed to escape. According to the stories, Patrick was told by God to go to the coast, and there he would find a ship which would take him home. After getting home, he became a priest.

He, however, returned to Ireland in 432 to spread Christianity in the region which was full of pagans. He spent most of his time in Northern Ireland where he converted thousands. He is known to fight the druids, and this led to a legend that he rid Ireland of “snakes” which may refer to the pagans that worshipped snakes because there have been any snakes in Ireland. He died on March 17th 461. Most of what is known about him is found in the Declaration which is said to have been written by Patrick. By the time of his death had established many churches, monasteries, and schools.

Holiday Celebrations

Saint Patrick’s Day became a Christian holiday in the 17th century. In the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, it is a public holiday.

The shamrock is a symbol of Saint Patrick's Day because the stories say that St. Patrick used a shamrock with three leaves to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity to the pagans in Ireland. Saint Patrick's Day is also celebrated by the Irish in other parts of United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Brazil, Argentina, and Australia. In the United States, Boston held the first St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1737 followed by New York (1762). The city of Chicago has painted its river green since 1962.

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