St. Patrick’s Day, commonly referred to as Paddy’s Day in Ireland and (incorrectly) Patty’s Day in America, is a cultural and religious holiday celebrated on March 17th each year. It is named after Saint Patrick, the man credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. However, St. Patrick’s Day has gradually become more of a secular celebration of Irishness and Irish culture celebrated the world over.
Everyone’s Irish on St Patrick’s Day
St. Patrick’s Day generally involves public parades and festivals, céilithe and the wearing of green attire or shamrocks. Christians also attend church services and (importantly for many Irish people) the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are lifted for the day.
This day of all things Irish is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland and Labrador and Montserrat. It is also widely celebrated by the Irish diaspora around the world; especially in Britain, Canada, the United States, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.
The biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations outside Dublin are in Downpatrick, County Down, where Saint Patrick is rumored to be buried. The shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the world takes place in Dripsey, Cork. The parade lasts just 100 yards and travels (fittingly) between the village’s two pubs.
St. Patrick’s Day, although not a legal holiday anywhere in the United States, is nonetheless widely recognized and celebrated throughout the country, usually on the weekend before the day itself. It is primarily observed as a celebration of Irish and Irish American culture; celebrations include prominent displays of the color green, feasting, copious consumption of alcohol, religious observances and numerous parades.
- Many people have decided that St. Patrick’s Day allows them a reprieve from their Lenten vows, whether they are abstaining from sweets (candy), alcohol or otherwise. There is a hotly contested debate as to whether or not this is considered cheating.
- Saint Patrick is the man attributed with bringing Christianity to Ireland, but he is also credited with banishing the snakes from Ireland.
- The Chicago River is dyed green annually in honor of St Patrick’s Day.
- Approximately 50,000 people take part in festivities in Buenos Aires, Argentina for St. Patrick’s Day each year.
- Saint Patrick was originally brought to the country by Irish raiders as a slave and was actually born in Wales.
- One estimate suggests that there are about 10,000 regular three-leaf clovers (shamrocks) for every lucky four-leaf clover.
- St. Patrick’s Day is one of the world’s biggest saint’s day celebrations, celebrated in 200 countries by about 80 million people.
- Boston, USA has the honor of holding the first ever St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1737.
- New York is said to have the world’s biggest St. Patrick’s Day parade and celebration, with 150,000 in the parade and an audience of about 3 million.
- Saint Patrick is supposed to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish. There is no connection between him and the four-leaved clover which is traditionally a sign of good luck.
- Corned beef and cabbage are widely eaten in America on St. Patrick’s Day; that’s not the case in Ireland. Many people in Ireland have never eaten corned beef.
- A whopping 24% of Boston’s population is of Irish descent – the largest ratio in America, which averages 12%.
- According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the highest number of leaves found on a clover is 14.
- It is estimated that 4.2 billion pints of beer will be drank this St. Patrick’s Day. Only 13 million of these pints will be Guinness.
- Only people in North America call it ‘Patty’s Day’. The Irish abbreviate it to Paddy’s Day as Paddy is derived from the Irish for Patrick, Pádraig.
- The original color of Saint Patrick is blue.
- Guinness tastes better in Ireland. There is irrefutable evidence of this.