History behind St. Patrick’s Day

Before you head out to the bar or parade, learn why we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day every year. These facts will wow your friends and help you win at trivia night. Every year on March 17, the day of Saint Patrick’s death, St. Patrick’s Day, also known as the Feast of Saint Patrick and St. Paddy’s Day, is observed. In the United States, the day is mostly celebrated by wearing anything green (to prevent getting pinched!), drinking plenty of green drinks, and attending the year’s most outrageous parades and St. Patrick’s Day activities.
But St. Patrick’s Day’s past isn’t anchored in the 24 hours of green-tinged, shamrock-waving merriment that we know it for today. Many people identify Saint Patrick as Ireland’s patron saint, but did you realise he wasn’t born in Ireland? What about the reality that the massive parties, parades, and festivities are mostly American customs that have just recently been adopted in Ireland?
To help you brush up on your St. Patrick’s Day knowledge, we’ve addressed some commonly asked questions about the holiday (and debunked a myth or two). After that, you might be wondering if leprechauns are genuine and how they became a part of folklore.
WHO EXACTLY IS St. PATRICK?
You might not believe it, but the patron saint of the Irish festival is neither a saint nor an Irishman.
Saint Patrick was born in the fifth century as a Roman British citizen. He was enslaved at the age of 16 and carried to Ireland, where he was held captive for six years. He then fled, only to return later to deliver Christianity to the people of Ireland—not the light-hearted antics you might expect to motivate a festival so dedicated to it.
Before his death on March 17, 461 A.D., he became a priest and established schools, churches, and monasteries throughout the Emerald Isle. Some people are astonished to find that Ireland’s patron saint and national apostle was never recognised as a saint by the Catholic Church. The absence of recognised sainthood is due to the absence of a proper canonization procedure in the 400s. Because of his popularity, the term “Saint” Patrick is likely to have caught on and persisted throughout time.
WHEN WAS THE FIRST St. PATRICK DAY CELEBRATED?
It wasn’t until 1631 that the Church created a feast to commemorate Ireland’s patron saint. Because St. Patrick’s Day comes during Lent, it has become a day for Christians to take a break from the abstinence restrictions of the weeks preceding Easter. By the 1700s, the festival had taken on a significantly more joyful tone than its creators had intended.
Irish immigrants in the United States were significantly responsible for gradually transitioning St. Patrick’s Day from a religious to a secular celebration. Boston, with its large Irish population, hosted the first parade in 1737, followed by New York City 25 years later. Today, these cities, along with Chicago, which is famous for dying its river green since 1962, have some of the largest celebrations honouring the hero who is said to have driven the snakes out of Ireland.
SIGNIFICANCE OF WEARING GREEN ON St. PATRICK’S DAY
It wasn’t until the Irish Rebellion of 1798 that the colour became connected with the occasion. The colour blue, which appeared on the traditional Irish flag, was initially associated with St. Patrick’s Day. However, the rebels donned green to distinguish themselves from the British, who wore red, and the hue has since come to represent Ireland and the Irish to the rest of the globe. Shamrocks, Ireland’s national plant (which legend has its St. Patrick used to explain the Holy Trinity), became a global symbol of the European island.
WHO OBSERVES St. PATRICK’S DAY?
While the highly joyous St. Patrick’s Day we know today is primarily the product of Irish-Americans, Irish in the motherland have begun to embrace it in recent decades. For example, the first parade in Ireland famously begins shortly before sunrise in Dingle! It is attended by both locals and visitors.

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