Feast of St Patrick: history and traditions

St Patrick’s Day, also called the Feast of Saint Patrick,17th March, is a Catholic feast day that commemorates St Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, on the date that is believed to be the anniversary of his death in the 5th century.

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Saint Patrick’s life

The Saint, who didn’t always live in Ireland, was born in Roman Britain around the 5th century but was captured at the age of 16 and transferred to Ireland as a slave, working mostly outdoors as a shepherd.

It is thought that during his captivity, he began to have dreams where he would convert Irish people to Christianity. After 6 years of slavery, Patrick had a first dream where he heard a voice advising him to leave Ireland, and so he did, he was able to flee to Britain again. Nevertheless, and as stated in his writings, the Saint had a second dream where was told by an angel to go back to Ireland as a missionary of Christianity.

He was ordained a priest and soon after travelled to Ireland where he began his mission, converting Irish locals to Christianity. Among all the Irish symbols he incorporated into the Christian faith, is the well-known “Celtic Cross”, associated with the Irish traditions of the time.

Many legends surround the figure of Saint Patrick, including the one associated with The Hill of Slane, where Saint Patrick explained the holy trinity with the shamrock, founding what is known as the three-leafed flower, a symbol of Ireland.

Some of our favourite sites in Ireland associated with St Patrick are: St Patrick’s Well in Co Tipperary, which according to scholars, it is here where Saint Patrick converted and baptized some Irish citizens; the Rock of Cashel, Patrick Street in Cork, or the prominent St Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh.

Saint Patrick died on the 17th of March 461 CE, after establishing many churches, schools, and monasteries.

Origins of Saint Patrick’s Day celebration

Saint Patrick’s Day has been celebrated in Ireland since the 10th century on each 17th March, however, the first celebration was held in the United States of America in 1601, in what was a Spanish colony in Florida. On the 17th of March of 1772, a parade marched by Irish soldiers to honour St Patrick was celebrated in New York.

Saint Patrick’s parades gained popularity in the USA during the 19th century, as Irish immigrants experienced discrimination in the protestant America of that period.

Nowadays, St Patrick’s Day is still a very important Feast celebrated in the USA, with many Irish descendants living there.

Celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day around the world

It is well-known that Saint Patrick’s day is a big festivity in Ireland with many parades celebrated on the 17th March throughout the country but also all over the world.

The most famous parade in Ireland takes place in Dublin city center in March and entertains families, children and people of all ages, with thousands of people, floats, and marchers dressing in green and carrying the symbol of the shamrock, honouring St Patrick’s during this amazing lent season of the Catholic faith.

There are also many parades celebrated in towns and villages across Ireland, where many sport teams, music teams, etc, gather together to celebrate this holy day.

In the USA, one of the most famous celebrations takes place in Chicago, where its river is dyed green for Saint Patrick’s feast, a tradition that dates back to 1962.

In New York, a parade has also been celebrated since 17th March 1772, marching in Fifth Avenue.

In Paris, France, the Eiffel Tower turns Green to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland on the 17th of March.

We hope you enjoy our blog about Saint Patrick’s Day history and traditions.

Happy St Patrick’s Day, Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona duit! from the Joe Walsh Tours team.






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