Saint Patrick's Day celebrates a Christian Saint named Patrick. Patrick was a missionary who helped to bring Christianity to Ireland. He is the patron saint of Ireland.
In the United States the day generally celebrates Irish-American culture and heritage.
When is Saint Patrick's Day celebrated?
March 17th. Sometimes the day is moved by the Catholic Church to avoid the Easter holidays.
Who celebrates this day?
The day is celebrated as a religious holiday by the Catholic Church. It is also celebrated in Ireland and by Irish people around the world. Many non-Irish join in the celebrations in many places, especially in the United States. It is a public holiday in Ireland.
What do people do to celebrate?
There are a number of traditions and ways to celebrate this day. For many years the day was celebrated as a religious holiday. People in Ireland and other areas of the world went to church services to celebrate. Many people still celebrate the day this way.
There are also lots of festivals and parades on this day to celebrate Irish culture. Most major cities have some sort of St. Patrick's Day parade. The city of Chicago has a fun custom where they dye the Chicago River green each year.
Probably the main way to celebrate St. Patrick's is to wear green. Green is the main color and symbol of the day. People not only wear green, but they dye their food green. People eat all sorts of green foods such as green hot dogs, green cookies, green bread, and green drinks.
Other fun traditions of the holiday include the shamrock (three leafed clover plant), Irish music played with bagpipes, eating corned beef and cabbage, and leprechauns.
History of Saint Patrick's Day
St. Patrick was a missionary to Ireland in the 5th century. There are many legends and tales about how he brought Christianity to the island including how he used the shamrock to explain the Christian trinity. It is believed he died on March 17, 461.
Hundreds of years later, around the 9th century, people in Ireland began celebrating the Feast of St. Patrick on March 17th each year. This holiday continued as a serious religious holiday in Ireland for hundreds of years.
In the 1700s the holiday began to become popular with Irish-Americans wanting to celebrate their heritage. The first St. Patrick's Day parade was held on March 17, 1762 in New York City.
Fun Facts About Saint Patrick's Day
- It was named the "Friendliest Day of the Year" by the Guinness Book of World Records.
- Legend has it that St. Patrick stood on a hill in Ireland and banished all the snakes from the island.
- The fountain in front of the White House is sometimes dyed green in honor of the day.
- Other names for the holiday include the Feast of St. Patrick, St. Paddy's Day, and St. Patty's Day.
- In 1991 March was proclaimed Irish-American Heritage Month in the United States.
- Around 150,000 people participate in the New York City parade.
- The streets of downtown Rolla, Missouri are painted green for the day.
- According to the 2003 census, there are 34 million Irish-Americans. Nineteen presidents of the United States claim to have some Irish heritage.
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