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The Story of Saint Patrick's Day

The luck of the Irish is coming to a town near you this March 17th. In cities across America and Ireland, St. Patrick's Day celebrations are gearing up to include parades, parties and more.

This spring holiday, also known as St. Patty's Day, has become associated with pots of gold, green shamrocks, dancing Leprechauns and plenty of Irish singing and beer drinking.

Of course, for those who commemorate the holiday's historical origin, St. Patrick's Day is not just a fun excuse to drink the day away. It is a day for spiritual renewal and thanksgiving, in honor of the death of Saint Patrick.

The patron saint and national apostle of Ireland, Saint Patrick has been historically credited with formalizing the presence of Christianity in Ireland during the 5th century BCE. He is said to have abolished the Druid's pagan rites and converted and baptized their warrior chiefs.

Legend tells that the Irish apostle used the shamrock to explain the Christian concept of the Trinity to potential converts. The three leaves of the shamrock, which today is a popular symbol of the St. Patrick's Day holiday, were used to represent the father, the son, and the holy spirit.

There are multiple accounts of the location and events leading to Saint Patrick's death. One fact is unanimously accepted, however: Saint Patrick died on March 17. Since that day, Irish Catholics have celebrated March 17th as a religious holiday.

Because St. Patrick's Day occurs during the Christian Lent period, religious families would have been prohibited from consuming meat and alcohol. However, these prohibitions were waived on St. Patty's Day, allowing even the most pious to celebrate the day with a traditional feast of Irish bacon and cabbage and some spirits.

Even still, the holiday was widely regarded as a fairly somber religious occasion. Until the 1970s, Irish law even mandated that pubs be closed on March 17th. Over the last three decades, however, Irish celebrations of St. Patrick's Day have become increasingly popularized.

In 1995, the Irish government decided to leverage the growing popularity of St. Patrick's Day by hosting a national celebration. Highlights include a three-day festival in Dublin, which annually draws hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world.

Unlike in Ireland, the United States has always had secular celebrations of St. Patrick's Day, dating back as far as 1737 when Boston held its first St. Patrick's Day parade. Today, people of all denominations and religious backgrounds celebrate the holiday by drinking green beer, wearing green clothing, adorning shamrock pins and attending parades.

Some of the most famous U.S. celebrations include the St. Patty's Day parades in Boston, New York and Chicago, which are attended by close to a million people each year - with many millions more enjoying them on TV.

These boisterous springtime festivities are even becoming popular in countries without a sizeable Irish population, such as Canada, Australia, Russia and Japan.

Related Articles:
Who Was Saint Patrick?
A Guide to St. Patrick's Day Celebrations and Customs
The Lucky Leprechaun
A Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow
Shamrocks and St. Patrick's Day

Add Comment
Melainie from Alabama, US
17:03 03/14/2011
Great information! I will make sure to deck out my food in green and maybe feed the baby something green too!
CrapTown from North Carolina, US
16:31 02/15/2011
I am sooo bored on this stuff and i just lovvveeee the food!! happy saint pat's day!!
penny from Antarctica
07:51 01/23/2011
why do the Irish believe all this stuff is lucky?
hasani from New York, US
09:41 03/17/2010
what is st, patrick day
t.k from Nebraska, US
19:44 01/10/2010
all i need 2 no is who started st.pattiez day then ill have all mi info. get thet 4 me thankzz
david from New York, US
22:30 04/12/2009
St. patty's day ?
Ronald Regins from Nevada, US
13:07 03/24/2009
HEYYYY! (: :P Boring history stuff. St.Patty's day has passed us. ): But happy patty's day! (((((:
Finlay Nore from Nevada, US
16:27 03/23/2009
HEY EVERYONEEE! long time no talk((: i haven't been on this web site scince last week((: well boy howdy i loveit!! ADIOS!
Philepe Quintz from Arizona, US
16:44 03/18/2009
OMIGOSH! I just saw a leprican he looked dizzy and was carrieng whisky! OMGGG! But he looked homless and wasnt short.. OH WELL! I invited him inside and now i dont know what hes doin in my room... HMMM, OH WELLL! Now i am eating somthing the lepracaoun offered me its like a greenish thing he said if i smoked it i would be able to ride peagusses.. YAYY! I get to ride peagusess i get to ridee peagusses; w00t w00t.. wwjd??? He would idk ride PEAGUSSES!! yayy ayyyyyaayayya well yeah right now it is very hot in Arizonaa. i am in a hotel it is likeee REALLY nice. And my brother Fabio is shaving.. HES 6 YEARS OLD! i started when i was 2! Man hes a little runt! ahhhhhhahaha i am horrid; ODE TO WELL! theres this kid named PENN! oh wowiee wow! and yeah i like to eat eat eat apples and bannanass! OH WOAH i i am dizzzyyyy! OOOOOO PEAGUSSES wee i like thizzzzQ fkl;asjdlfkj;lasdkjf;sdjkaf ;asdkljflk;asdj; *toot* WHOOPS i tooted, ah heehee! I am a nauty little BOY!! I AM I AM! 5 minutes later..... chingada madre pinchi pendejosssssssssssssssssssssss that means hii! in spanish or like in russian!?!!!! ahhhhhh idkkkk,] DO U TEXT?? i TEXT i text all the time i lalalove to textt! OMG! FABIOOOOO hes hes hes hes gonee! oh well hes probrably in my room with the lepricaun! ahhahahaha I LOVE St.Patty's Day!!! w00t w00t!!! yayyyyyyyy! well BYE BYE!
carrie from Michigan, US
18:12 03/17/2009
I LOVE ST.Patty's Dy

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