Ireland is a renowned European holiday destination that is covered in fog, rain, and woodlands. It’s a place of Celtic beliefs, welcoming people, and lovely traditions. St. Patrick’s Day, the most famous Irish holiday, is celebrated not only in Ireland but also in many other nations throughout the world, by both Irish and non-Irish people. But what actually is celebrated, and what distinguishes this festival from others?
To begin, we must first learn more about who St. Patrick was and why the Irish are commemorating him. The man St. Patrick and his early years are mostly unknown. He was born in the 5th century in Roman Britain, which is now the United Kingdom. He was abducted and enslaved in Ireland by Irish pirates when he was sixteen years old, and it was only six years later that he escaped and returned to his family. St. Patrick afterwards became a bishop and traveled to Northern Ireland, where he preached Christianity to the locals, who were at the time pagans. He was canonized and made the patron saint of Ireland shortly after his death in 461. The 17th of March, the precise date of his death, became St. Patrick’s Day.
At first, this feast was a purely religious one. People used to go to church and attend religious services, and it was only in the 18th century that the Irish immigrants from the USA transformed it into a more secular holiday and celebration of the Irish history and culture how we know it today. In the cities with a large Irish diaspora, the main way of celebration became organizing parades. The first parade was held in Boston more than three centuries ago, back in 1737, followed by the one in New York City in 1762. It then became an annual tradition to honor both the saint of Ireland and the Irish culture in general. Since then, many cities around the world started celebrating special events and traditions. The most well-known one is dyeing the Chicago River green, a tradition that got its origins in 1962.
Another fun and popular way of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day is by participating in a “wearing of the green” contest, where all the participants of a parade wear a green element or paint shamrocks on their faces. People are also eating traditional food such as corned beef and cabbage, soda bread, colcannon, and drinking Irish beverages that sometimes are colored in green. Those who celebrate, both the Irish and the non-Irish, are exchanging gifts, usually something traditional such as Irish sweaters, home blessings, jewelry, sweets and drinks, and many other thoughtful presents. If this year you’re celebrating this feast and are looking for presents, you can find many St. Patrick’s Day gift ideas here. At the end of the day, there are organized loud celebrations with concerts with folk music, traditional instruments, and famous artists.