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Erin Go Bragh! Meaning ‘Ireland forever’, this phrase is often heard as part of the celebrations that take place surrounding St. Patrick’s Day. This day, near the end of the winter season, is a time to show appreciation for Irish culture – whether by those who are actually Irish or those who simply love all things Irish. Of course, in addition, this is an important time to pay honor and respect for this man who sacrificed much to help other people. 

Now It’s time for St. Patrick’s Day!

History of St. Patrick’s Day

Saint Patrick’s Day, colloquially St. Paddy’s Day or simply Paddy’s Day, is an annual feast day that celebrates Saint Patrick, the most commonly recognized of the patron saints of Ireland within the Catholic church. But Patrick’s influence has spread far beyond the Christian faith and into various corners of the world!

Many people don’t realize that Saint Patrick wasn’t even actually Irish. In fact, he was born to Roman parents in either Scotland or Wales. Though his life’s work took place in Ireland, Patrick didn’t go there willingly in the beginning. Instead, at the age of 16, he was kidnapped from his family’s British estate and taken to Ireland as a prisoner. After six years he escaped back to Britain but, many years later, he showed excessive forgiveness when he went back to Ireland as a missionary.

Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated worldwide by those of Irish descent and increasingly by people of other ethnicities as well, notably in Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and North America. The celebration takes place on this day in honor of the death of St. Patrick, which took place more than 1500 years ago on March 17 in the year 492. The first feast of St. Patrick was organized and observed by the Catholic Church in 1631, but it wasn’t until more recent history that the day has moved beyond the church to become a worldwide cultural event.

Celebrations for St. Patrick’s Day are generally themed around all things Irish and, by association, the color green. Both Christians and non-Christians celebrate the secular version of the holiday by wearing green, eating Irish food and/or green foods, imbibing Irish drink and attending parades, which have a particularly long history in the United States and in Canada.

Saint Patrick’s Day Timeline

389 AD

St. Patrick is born 

Born to wealthy Roman-British parents, Patrick’s birth name is Maewyn Succat.[1]

405 AD

Patrick escapes from captivity 

After being captured from his home in Wales, Patrick escapes from prison and finds passage home.

427 AD

Patrick returns to Ireland 

Following his religious training, Patrick practices forgiveness and feels God telling him to go back to Ireland as a missionary.[2]

1631

St. Patrick is honored by the church 

The Feast Day honoring Patrick as the Patron Saint of Ireland is established by the Catholic church.[3]

1762

First St Patrick’s Day parade in the US 

New York City sees its first St. Paddy’s parade after the British Army brings the holiday to the New World.[4]

How to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

Show some support for St. Patrick’s Day and enjoy some of these ideas for celebrating:

Wear Green for St. Patrick’s Day

Since green is associated with Saint Patrick due to his work in Ireland or the “Emerald Isle”, many people have taken on the tradition of wearing green in honor of this day. Perhaps it could be something as simple as wearing a green shirt or simply pinning a four leaf clover to a jacket lapel, but for others this might mean going all out and dressing in green from head to toe!

Costume shops and party stores often stock a supply of silly gag outfits around this time of year, including green top hats, shamrock glasses and other gadgets, often sprinkled with green glitter. Some people might even want to dress up as full-on leprechauns. Wearing green is a delightful way to show affection for this day!

Learn Interesting Facts About St. Patrick’s Day

It might be fun to get a bit more informed about the history of life of Saint Patrick in celebration of the day. Learn about and share some of these bits of trivia to get started:

  • The first St. Patrick’s Day parade in the United States was held in New York City in 1766, even before the US was an independent nation.

  • Though the story goes that St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland, things probably didn’t happen that way. The legend gives him credit for this, but scientists believe that the island of Ireland never actually had snakes in the first place.

  • St. Patrick changed his name. At birth, he was given the name Maewyn Succat but he took on the name Patricius when he became a priest. So, alternatively, everyone could be celebrating St. Maewyn Succat’s Day!

  • According to tradition, the shamrock may be associated with St. Patrick because he was believed to have used it as a teaching tool to describe the trinitarian (three-in-one) aspects of God.

Host a St. Patrick’s Day Party

Gather around some friends, family members or coworkers and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in style! Invite guests to dress up in their favorite green costumes and enjoy some games, food and music that are all centered around the festive theme of Saint Patrick. Some folks like to decorate with the Irish flag or four leaf clovers as a symbol of good luck, while others have fun dyeing their beer green in honor of the occasion.

Listen to some Irish Music

One of the best ways to enjoy any holiday is to listen to celebratory music! Consider searching a playlist on Spotify, or create a personal playlist with some of these songs to get started:

  • Molly Malone by The Dubliners (1983)
  • An Irish Pub Song by the The Rumjacks (2010)
  • Drunken Lullabies by Flogging Molly (2002)
  • This Is a Rebel Song by Sinead O’Connor (1997)

Plan a Visit to Ireland

Go full out for St. Patrick’s Day by making plans to head over to the Emerald Isle. Ireland is an amazing and beautiful place to visit, from Dublin in the northeast to to Killarney in the south and everywhere in between! Charming towns and villages along some of the most beautiful green nature scenes are absolutely worth the trip.

Along the country’s famous Wild Atlantic Way, the Dingle Peninsula offers amazing views of craggy cliffs, evergreen coastlines and the crystal blue sea. Of course, the Cliffs of Moher offer the most incredible views of Galway Bay and Cork’s access to Blarney Castle and the Blarney Stone is iconic.

Watch Films About Ireland

Those who perhaps don’t have a chance to visit Ireland might still want to watch some films that were made there! In fact, many films made there have some beautiful and amazing scenery along with compelling stories. In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, this is a great time to grab some friends or family members and put on a movie that features the land St. Patrick is famous for. Consider watching one of these movies in honor of the day:

  • Brooklyn (2015). Featuring one of the most favored Irish actresses, Saoirse Ronan, this one is set in both Ireland and New York City.
  • Once (2007). This modern day musical tells the story of a busker in Dublin who falls in love with an immigrant.
  • Calvary (2014). Brendan Gleeson, his son Domnhall Gleeson, and Chris O’Dowd lead this talented cast in the story about a village priest in a coastal Irish town. 

Saint Patrick’s Day FAQs

What does St. Patrick protect you from?

Patrick is the patron saint of protection against snake bites as well as engineering, due to his construction of so many churches.[1]

Did St. Patrick escape Ireland?

Yes. Patrick was taken to Ireland as a prisoner when he was a teen. He then escaped, only to go back years later as a missionary.[2]

Where is St. Patrick’s Cathedral?

St. Patrick’s Cathedral is in Midtown Manhattan in New York City.[3]

Does St. Patrick’s Day change?

St. Patrick’s Day is always celebrated on March 17, no matter what day of the week it falls on.

What cities have St. Patrick’s Day parades?

In the US, some major cities that have a St. Patrick’s Day parade include New York, Chicago, San Francisco, New Orleans, Denver, Pittsburgh and many others.[4]

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National Corned Beef and Cabbage Day

Get ready to celebrate St. Patrick's Day with this delicious meal made of slow-cooked, savory meat and tender, flavorful vegetables.

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