St. Patrick’s Day

DATE

Annually on March 17

HOLIDAY TYPE

Cultural and secular holiday with religious roots  (Christian & Celtic)

OBSERVED BY

Celebrated worldwide (Argentina, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, England, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Lithuania, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Montserrat, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Scotland, Singapore, Switzerland, and United States)

CUSTOMS & TRADITIONS

St. Patrick’s Day is an Irish cultural and Christian religious holiday celebrated with parties, festivals, and street carnivals.  Many parades are held in cities across the United States.  Christians often attend church services in honor of St. Patrick.

An Irish American tradition is dyeing the Chicago River green, which began in the city of Chicago in 1962.  People around the world wear green and drink green Irish beer and Irish whiskey.  Shamrocks, called the “seamroy” by the Scottish represent the rebirth of Spring.   Other symbols include the Celtic cross, pots of gold, rainbows, and leprechauns.

TRADITIONAL FOOD & DRINKS

Traditional Food:  Corned beef, cabbage, Irish stew, shepherd’s pie, Irish buttered carrots, potatoes, steak and Guinness pie, colcannon, champ, Irish pasties, Irish brown bread, and Irish soda bread.  Irish apple cake and rhubarb pie are typical desserts.

Contemporary Food:  Shamrock shake, Irish coffee cupcakes, corned beef sandwich, and chocolate potato cake.

Drinks:  Jameson Irish whiskey, Guiness Irish beer, and Irish coffee.

HOLIDAY HISTORY

Saint Patrick’s Day has many names including Feast of Saint Patrick, Patrick’s Day, and St. Paddy’s Day.  St. Patrick’s Day celebrates the patron saint of Ireland, who is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland.  St. Patrick’s Day observes the anniversary of his death on March 17 in the fifth century.  The Irish have honored Sr. Patrick for over a thousand years.  The holiday typically falls during Lent, a Christian observance lasting forty days.

In Irish culture, it is said that St. Patrick used the three leaves of an Irish clover (shamrock) to describe the Holy Trinity (Father, Son & Holy Spirit).  This legend is believed to be the reason shamrocks are associated with St. Patrick’s Day.

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in America in 1601.  Later, on March 17, 1772, homesick Irish soldiers marched to honor St. Patrick in New York.  From then on, St. Patrick’s Day parades celebrating Irish heritage became an annual event in New York.  Spreading to other cities across the country, the largest parades in America include:  Chicago, Illinois; Savannah, Georgia; Boston, Massachusetts; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; San Francisco, California; and Kansas City, Missouri.

Some of the world’s biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, apart from the United States, occur in Dublin, Ireland; Sydney, Australia; Montreal, Canada; London, England; Munich, Germany; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Auckland, New Zealand; Montserrat, Caribbean; and Singapore.