St Patrick, who lived from 385-461 AD, is the most commonly recognized patron saint of Ireland. Saint Patrick's Day, celebrated on March 17th, is a cultural and religious holiday which commemorates St Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland.
St Patrick's Day was made an official feast day in the early seventeenth century and has gradually become a celebration of Irish culture. The day is characterized by the attendance of church services, wearing green, public parades, and the lifting of Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol.
Patrick was born in Roman Britain into a wealthy family. His father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest in the Christian church. When Patrick was sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken captive to Ireland.
While in Ireland, Patrick had a dream that God told him to flee from captivity and go to the coast. He would board a ship and return to Britain. When he reached Britain, he joined the Church and studied to be a priest.
In 432, he returned to Ireland as a bishop to Christianize the Irish. Irish folklore tells that he used the shamrock to explain the Trinity.
The mythology about St. Patrick is that he chased the snakes from Ireland. It's true that to this day, there are no snakes on the island, but there never were.
Originally, the color associated with St. Patrick was blue, but over the years, the color green became popular. Green ribbons and shamrocks were worn on St. Patrick's Day as early as the 17th century.
Around the World:
In 1903, St. Patrick's Day became an official public holiday in Ireland. The first St Patrick's Day parade was held in Dublin in 1931. In the mid-1990s the government of the Republic of Ireland began a campaign to use the day to showcase Ireland and its culture.
In Great Britain, Queen Elizabeth used to present bowls of shamrocks flown from Ireland to members of the Irish Guards.
In Japan, St. Patrick's Day parades are held in nine locations. Parades and other events related to the day spread across almost the entire month of March.
The first St. Patrick's Day parade took place in Russia in 1992.
The Irish Association of Korea has celebrated St. Patrick's Day since 1976 in Seoul.
The St. Patrick's Day Test is an international rugby league tournament played between the USA and Ireland.
Every year since 1961, The Chicago Plumbers Union sponsors the dying of the Chicago River in Illinois.
The shortest parade in the world takes place in Dripsey, Cork. The parade is 100 yards and travels between the village's two pubs.
One of the longest-running parades in North America occurs each year in Montreal, whose city flag includes a shamrock. The parades have been held continually since 1824.
The first parade was held in New York City in 1762.
The world's largest parade, held each year in New York City, is 42 blocks long.
Corned beef and cabbage
Irish soda bread
Did you know?
- There are more Americans of Irish origin than there are Irish in Ireland (36 million Americans claimed Irish ancestry in 2008; population of Ireland was 4.4 million at the time)
- St. Patrick's true given name was Maewyn Succat
- It takes 40 pounds of dye to turn the Chicago River green for the holiday.
- The very first St. Patrick’s Day parade was not in Ireland. It was in Boston in 1737.
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