St Patrick's Day: Who was Saint Patrick, why do we celebrate Ireland's Patron Saint and why is it held on March 17?

The global pandemic has led to the majority of St Patrick’s events being cancelled for the last two years – but the celebrations are set to return in 2022.

From parades in New York and Dublin, to smaller celebrations in Irish bars across the world, many glasses will be raided to Ireland’s Patron Saint,

Here’s what we know about the real Saint Patrick and the reason we celebrate his life.

Who was Saint Patrick?

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Saint Patrick was born in the 5th century in a Britain that was under occupation by the Romans and was kidnapped at the age of 16 and sent to Ireland as a slave.

It’s said that he managed to escape and returned to his family but later returned to Ireland and is credited with bringing Christianity to the island.

In later life he served as a bishop and by the seventh century he had become the patron saint of Ireland.

What do shamrocks have to do with Saint Patrick?

St Patrick's Day is celebrated all over the world on March 17.St Patrick's Day is celebrated all over the world on March 17.
St Patrick's Day is celebrated all over the world on March 17.

One of the emblems of Irish culture, the shamrock is a native type of clover that has three leaves.

Saint Patrick used the plant to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity - the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Why do we celebrate on March 17?

St Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17 because it’s believed to be the anniversary of his death in the year 461.

When was the first St Patrick’s Day celebration?

Irish people have marked the Roman Catholic feast day of St Patrick on March 17 since the 9th century, but the modern celebrations can be traced back to 17th century America.

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The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in 1601 in a Spanish colony in what is now Florida – organised by the colony’s Irish vicar.

In 1772 homesick Irish soldiers held a St Patrick’s Day march in New York, and similar events later sprung up in cities across the country with large Irish diaspora.

Today, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated around the world, including in Ireland where there has been a national campaign to drum up interest in what used to be a solely religious occasion – up until the 1970s pubs in Ireland werent even allowed to open on March 17.

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