Saint Patrick’s Day (Lá Fhéile Pádraig in Irish) is an annual feast day to celebrate St Patrick who lived between 387 and 461AD, the most commonly recognised of the patron saints of Ireland, and is celebrated on 17th of March. The day is a national holiday in Ireland and his feast day marks the arrival of Christianity in Ireland.
Saint Patrick is not only the Patron Saint of Ireland, but he is also the Patron Saint of Australia, Nigeria, and Montserrat, which gives him a universal recognition in the Church and in the world.
Did you know that St Patrick was most likely Scottish? By all historical accounts, Patrick was captured by an Irish raiding party somewhere along the west coast of what is known today as Great Britain. It was more than likely Scotland because of its proximity to Ireland, although many would say Wales. We know that there were boats leaving from Strangford Lough in Larne at that time, around the year 426 AD. (One can see Scotland from Larne on a clear day; it's about 10 miles away).
Patrick eventually escaped his slavery in Ireland and found his way back to his home but often thought about the Irish and prayed for their conversion to the faith. During his time in Ireland, even though he was a slave, he had developed a profound relationship with God and a great ability to pray.
Later, as he said himself in his "Confessions," he was tormented by the "Voice of the Irish," whom he had heard calling in the night: "Come back to us Patrick."
The day is usually celebrated with all things Irish, including wearing green clothes, eating Irish food, and consuming Irish drinks, such as Guinness. Green ribbons and shamrocks are worn in celebration of St Patrick, and have been since as early as the 17th century. St Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pre-Christian Irish. The main legend surrounding Saint Patrick is of how he banished all snakes from Ireland by chasing them into the sea.
Traditionally, in Great Britain, The Queen Mother used to present small bowls of shamrock flown over from Ireland to members of the Irish Guards, a regiment in the British Army. The Irish Guards still wear shamrocks on this day, flown in from Ireland.
St. Patrick’s Day is arguably the most widely celebrated saint’s day in the world, and is a general celebration of Irish culture across the globe. An excuse for a pint of Guiness if ever there was one! March the 17th always sees great celebrations as many cities across the world hold fantastic parades and festivals. Dublin’s parade is the biggest, showcasing the rich language and the fantastic folk music that Ireland treasures. In 2008 even the fountains of Trafalgar Square were dyed green in honour.