Saint Patrick’s Day – What is it All About?
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St. Patrick is the patron saint of the Emerald Isle. He was a Christian missionary and Bishop in Ireland during the 5th century who was kidnapped at age 16 and later returned to Ireland, where he converted thousands to Christianity. This story is often told through the allegory of St. Patrick ‘driving the snakes out of Ireland’. The anniversary of his death on 17th March is what is now celebrated every year on Saint Patrick’s.
You might know it for jubilant parades, Irish-themed parties and carnival type events, but originally the day was solely a religious feast day in Ireland. Parades first started in the USA, with the Irish diaspora seeing that day as a way to celebrate their heritage. Eventually these joyous festivities and traditions made their way back to Ireland, with the first parade there being held in 1903, and the festival has slowly developed into what we know it as today.
St. Patrick’s Day Traditions, Old and New
When talking about Irish traditions and symbols, it’s hard not to think of the shamrock. Story has it that this plant, indigenous to Ireland, was used to by Saint Patrick to symbolise the Holy Trinity. You may have heard of the tradition of ‘drowning the shamrock’. The phrase is now sometimes used to signify drinking any alcohol on Saint Patrick’s Day, but traditionally, this custom sees a shamrock dunked into the last glass of whiskey at the end of the night’s celebrations and drunk in a toast to the patron saint of Ireland. The shamrock left at the bottom of the glass is thrown over the left shoulder for good luck.
When you think of Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day, there’s only one colour that comes to mind – green! Originally, the colour blue was associated with St. Patrick, but Irish Americans started to use the colour green to symbolise their Irish nationalism and it has now become an integral part of the celebrations.
So how can you get in the spirit? Try some green clothing, accessories or makeup for a subtle nod to the day. If you want to go all out, why not try hosting your own St. Patrick’s Day party, complete with themed decorations. Of course, the colour green and the Irish shamrock are essential! Take a look at some of our picks.