Saint Patrick’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick, is a cultural and religious celebration held on 17th March that commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, and celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish in general.
Saint Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, and celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, céilís. Saint Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish and it is customary to wear shamrocks, green clothing or green accessories on St Patrick’s Day.
Saint Patrick was a 5th-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland, whose efforts against the druids were eventually turned into an allegory in which he drove “snakes” out of Ireland, despite the fact that snakes were not known to inhabit the region.
Tradition holds that he died on 17 March and was buried at Downpatrick. Over the following centuries, many legends grew up around Patrick and he became Ireland’s foremost saint.
Celebrations have evolved over the centuries and since 2010 famous landmarks have been lit up in green on Saint Patrick’s Day as part of Tourism Ireland’s “Global Greening Initiative” or “Going Green for St Patrick’s Day”, however blue was the original colour people associated with St Patrick.
In the 18th century, when the shamrock became a national symbol, green was finally introduced to St. Patrick’s Day festivities and due to the shamrock’s popularity and Ireland’s landscape (the Emerald Isle), the colour stuck to the holiday.
Some people also think sporting the colour will bring good luck, and others wear it to honour their Irish ancestry.
Folklore says wearing green makes you invisible to leprechauns, which like to pinch anyone they can see, so you’re supposed to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day or risk getting pinched!
The week of Saint Patrick’s Day is known as “Irish language week” when an effort is made to use the Irish language.