St. Patrick’s Day

People all over the world enjoy celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. What began as a religious holiday in Ireland in the 1600’s has become a day of parades, parties and lots of green!

Who Was St. Patrick, and Why is There a Day to Celebrate Him?

St. Patrick (385 – 461) is credited with introducing Christianity to Ireland. St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17, the anniversary of his death. On St. Patrick’s Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, Irish families attend church and celebrate with parades, festivals and the wearing of green clothing or shamrocks. On St. Patrick’s Day the rules of fasting, required during the forty days of Lent, are suspended, making food and drink a focus of the day’s celebrations.

Saint Patrick's Day, while not a legal holiday in the United States, is nonetheless widely recognized and observed throughout the country as a celebration of Irish American culture. Celebrations include prominent displays of the color green, eating and drinking (with many foods dyed the color green!), religious observances, and parades. The holiday has been celebrated on the North American continent since 1737, when the first celebration was held in Boston.

According to legend, St. Patrick used the shamrock, a three leaved plant, in his teaching. He used it to explain the Trinity, or three forms of God - the Father, Son and Holy Spirit . Green ribbons and shamrocks have been worn on St Patrick's Day since the late 1600’s in honor of St. Patrick. This “wearing of the green” is a focus of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations across the United States. So much so in fact, that those caught not wearing green, might get pinched!