Everyone has heard of St Patrick’s day, a day to drink and have fun, especially if you are Irish. But do you know the origins of this festival?
St Patrick’s day, celebrated on March 17th has been an official Christian feast since the Seventeenth century, commemorating Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461), the patron Saint of Ireland and the arrival of Christianity in this land. Nowadays, it is also a celebration of Irish culture and heritage.
People attend public parades and festivals and normally wear green and shamrocks. It is said that St Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to pagan Irish. The shamrock became associated with him and the festival. In fact, green has been associated with Ireland for a long time, at least since the 1640s when the Irish Catholic Confederation adopted a green flag with a yellow harp.
On St Patrick’s day, Christian people attend church services and during that day, the Lent restrictions are lifted and people are free to eat and drink.
Saint Patrick’s feast day, as a national day, was already being celebrated by the Irish in Europe in the ninth and tenth centuries. In later times, he became more and more widely known as the patron of Ireland. In 1903, Saint Patrick’s Day became an official public holiday in Ireland. The first Saint Patrick’s Day parade held in the Irish Free State was held in Dublin in 1931.
In the mid-1990s the government of the Republic of Ireland began a campaign to use Saint Patrick’s Day to showcase Ireland and its culture. The first Saint Patrick’s Festival was held on 17 March 1996.