March 17th; a date that most people will recognise instantly. St. Patrick’s Day is definitely one of the world’s favourite days with its infamous drinking sessions and celebrations. But do the people who enjoy these traditions on a yearly basis know how St. Patrick himself came to such fame?
Born in Britain in the 5th Century, St. Patrick initially got to Ireland after being captured by Irish pirates and taken to this new land, where he was forced to work as a slave. Approximately 6 years after being kidnapped, St. Patrick found his way back to his homeland and family where he trained to be a priest. He later returned to Ireland as a bishop to spread the word of God, where he continued to work and preach for more than 40 years. He passed away in Ireland and this is the namesake day that what we now love and celebrate. The unforgettable Irish shamrock also became the symbol for Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day thanks to the patron saint using the three-leaved gem as a representation for the holy trinity when preaching to and converting many of the Irish people.
Now that we all know why St. Patrick is the Irish patron saint and why he is celebrated, time for the next, possibly more important question; why do we all spend the day drinking?! According to blogger Jeff Flowers (cool name, right?!), Christians are allowed a break from Lent and their sacrifices for this one day, meaning that alcohol and mass food consumption took place which led to this day being associated as a day of guilt-free, heavy drinking for all.
Hostelworld, who most of us also know and love, give us a detailed insight into some exciting activities and celebrations that take place around the world every year in honour of St. Patrick, such as the elaborate parades take happen in cities all over the world, This year, grand processions will take place in some of the busy main streets of London, Sydney and Toronto to name but a few, and New York City holds the biggest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the world. If you’re lucky to be there for the big day, prepare for music and dancing galore, as well as, apparently, and endless flow of green beer in some of the city’s Irish bars! Tokyo, Japan even has a colourful ‘I Love Ireland’ festival that takes place over a weekend every year.
Other big American cities make sure to be a part of the celebrations too, such as Boston which claims to have the biggest Irish population in the U.S. Also taking place on Sunday March 17th, this parade, the second biggest after New York, attracts more than one million spectators to join and be jolly in the spirit of the Irish. However, the popularity of one U.S. city’s celebrations tops them all; Chicago and the dyeing of the Chicago River green! It even has an annual fun run as part of its celebrations.
I hope you all manage to partake in some traditional St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, whether you get the chance to enjoy some Irish whiskey, beer or Guinness, dance all night at an Irish ceilidh, or attend one of the many parades or parties taking place around the world!