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St. Patrick's Day – Christian

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Time: 
Sat, 17/03/2018 (All day)
Location: 
EVERYWHERE.

 17th March

St. Patrick's Day – Christian

Christian celebration of Patrick who brought Christianity to Ireland in early days of the faith. 

On St. Patrick's Day it is customary to wear shamrocks and/or green clothing or accessories (the "wearing of the green").  St. Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish. 

This story first appears in writing in 1726, though it may be older.  In pagan Ireland, three was a significant number and the Irish had many triple deities, a fact that aided St. Patrick in his evangelisation efforts. 

The wearing of the 'St. Patrick's Day Cross', especially in the World War I era, by the Irish, was also a popular custom.  These St. Patrick's Day Crosses have a Celtic Christian cross made of paper that is "covered with silk or ribbon of different colours, and a bunch or rosette of green silk in the centre." 

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Christian celebration of Patrick who brought Christianity to Ireland in early days of the faith. 

On St. Patrick's Day it is customary to wear shamrocks and/or green clothing or accessories (the "wearing of the green").  St. Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish. 

This story first appears in writing in 1726, though it may be older.  In pagan Ireland, three was a significant number and the Irish had many triple deities, a fact that aided St. Patrick in his evangelisation efforts. 

The wearing of the 'St. Patrick's Day Cross', especially in the World War I era, by the Irish, was also a popular custom.  These St. Patrick's Day Crosses have a Celtic Christian cross made of paper that is "covered with silk or ribbon of different colours, and a bunch or rosette of green silk in the centre." 

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Patrick was a 5th-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland.  Much of what is known about Saint Patrick comes from the Declaration, which was allegedly written by Patrick himself.  It is believed that he was born in Roman Britain in the fourth century, into a wealthy Romano-British family.  His father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest in the Christian church.  According to the Declaration, at the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Gaelic Ireland.  It says that he spent six years there working as a shepherd and that during this time he "found God".  The Declaration says that God told Patrick to flee to the coast, where a ship would be waiting to take him home.  After making his way home, Patrick went on to become a priest. 

According to legend, Saint Patrick used the three-leaved shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to Irish pagans 

According to tradition, Patrick returned to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity.  The Declaration says that he spent many years evangelising in the northern half of Ireland and converted "thousands".  Patrick's efforts to convert, subjugate, and drive off the Pagans (specifically the Celts) were eventually turned into an allegory in which he drove "snakes" out of Ireland.  (Ireland never had any snakes.) 

Tradition holds that he died on 17 March and was buried at Downpatrick.  Over the following centuries, many legends grew up around Patrick and he became Ireland's foremost saint. 

Celebration and traditions 

Wearing of the green 

On St. Patrick's Day it is customary to wear shamrocks and/or green clothing or accessories (the "wearing of the green").  St. Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish.  This story first appears in writing in 1726, though it may be older. 

In pagan Ireland, three was a significant number and the Irish had many triple deities, a fact that may have aided St. Patrick in his evangelisation efforts.  Patricia Monaghan says there is no evidence that the shamrock was sacred to the pagan Irish.  However, Jack Santino speculates that it may have represented the regenerative powers of nature, and was recast in a Christian context—icons of St. Patrick often depict the saint "with a cross in one hand and a sprig of shamrocks in the other".  Roger Homan writes, "We can perhaps see St. Patrick drawing upon the visual concept of the triskele when he uses the shamrock to explain the Trinity". 

The colour green has been associated with Ireland since at least the 1640s, when the green harp flag was used by the Irish Catholic Confederation.  Green ribbons and shamrocks have been worn on St. Patrick's Day since at least the 1680s.  The Friendly Brothers of St. Patrick, an Irish fraternity founded in about 1750, adopted green as its colour.  However, when the Order of St. Patrick—an Anglo-Irish chivalric order—was founded in 1783 it adopted blue as its colour, which led to blue being associated with St. Patrick.  During the 1790s, green would become associated with Irish nationalism, due to its use by the United Irishmen.  This was a republican organisation—led mostly by Protestants but with many Catholic members—who launched a rebellion in 1798 against British rule.  The phrase "wearing of the green" comes from a song of the same name, which laments United Irishmen supporters being persecuted for wearing green.  Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the colour green and its association with St. Patrick's Day grew. 

The wearing of the 'St. Patrick's Day Cross' was also a popular custom in Ireland until the early 20th century.  These were a Celtic Christian cross made of paper that was "covered with silk or ribbon of different colours, and a bunch or rosette of green silk in the centre". 

Celebrations by region 

Ireland 

Saint Patrick's feast day, as a kind of national day, was already being celebrated by the Irish in Europe in the ninth and tenth centuries.  In later times, he became more and more widely known as the patron of Ireland.  Saint Patrick's feast day was finally placed on the universal liturgical calendar in the Catholic Church due to the influence of Waterford-born Franciscan scholar Luke Wadding in the early 1600s.  Saint Patrick's Day thus became a holy day of obligation for Roman Catholics in Ireland.  It is also a feast day in the Church of Ireland.  The church calendar avoids the observance of saints' feasts during certain solemnities, moving the saint's day to a time outside those periods.  St. Patrick's Day is occasionally affected by this requirement, when 17 March falls during Holy Week.  This happened in 1940, when Saint Patrick's Day was observed on 3 April to avoid it coinciding with Palm Sunday, and again in 2008, where it was officially observed on 14 March.  St. Patrick's Day will not fall within Holy Week again until 2160.  However, the secular celebration is always held on 17 March. 

In 1903, St. Patrick's Day became an official public holiday in Ireland.  This was thanks to the Bank Holiday (Ireland) Act 1903, an act of the United Kingdom Parliament introduced by Irish Member of Parliament James O'Mara.  O'Mara later introduced the law that required that pubs and bars be closed on 17 March after drinking got out of hand, a provision that was repealed in the 1970s. 

The first St. Patrick's Day parade in Ireland was held in Waterford in 1903.  The week of March 15–22, 1903 had been declared Irish Language Week by the Gaelic League and in Waterford they opted to have a procession on Sunday March 15.  The Waterford trades unions from the Trades Hall decided to take part in this “St. Patrick’s Day Procession”.  The procession comprised the Mayor and members of Waterford Corporation, the Trades Hall, the various trade unions and bands who included the Barrack St.  Band and the Thomas Francis Meagher Band.  This procession started from the premises of the Gaelic League in George's St.  and finished in the Peoples Park, Waterford where the public were addressed by the Mayor and other dignitaries.  On Tuesday, March 17 Waterford business premises were closed and marching bands paraded like they did two days previously.  The Waterford Trades Hall had been emphatic that the National Holiday be observed and it appears that most business premises remained closed for March 17, including a lot of Public Houses.  >  

The first St. Patrick's Day parade in Dublin took place in 1931 and was reviewed by the then Minister of Defence Desmond Fitzgerald. 

In the mid-1990s the government of the Republic of Ireland began a campaign to use St. Patrick's Day to showcase Ireland and its culture.  The government set up a group called St. Patrick's Festival, with the aims: 

Mayo 

To offer a national festival that ranks amongst all of the greatest celebration in the world 

To create energy and excitement throughout Ireland via innovation, creativity, grassroots involvement, and marketing activity 

To provide the opportunity and motivation for people of Irish descent (and those who sometimes wish they were Irish) to attend and join in the imaginative and expressive celebrations 

To project, internationally, an accurate image of Ireland as a creative, professional and sophisticated country with wide appeal. 

The first St. Patrick's Festival was held on 17 March 1996.  In 1997, it became a three-day event, and by 2000 it was a four-day event.  By 2006, the festival was five days long; more than 675,000 people attended the 2009 parade.  Overall 2009's five-day festival saw close to 1 million visitors, who took part in festivities that included concerts, outdoor theatre performances, and fireworks.  Skyfest forms the centrepiece of the festival. 

The topic of the 2004 St. Patrick's Symposium was "Talking Irish", during which the nature of Irish identity, economic success, and the future were discussed.  Since 1996, there has been a greater emphasis on celebrating and projecting a fluid and inclusive notion of "Irishness" rather than an identity based around traditional religious or ethnic allegiance.  The week around St. Patrick's Day usually involves Irish language speakers using more Irish during Seachtain na Gaeilge ("Irish Language Week"). 

Christian leaders in Ireland have expressed concern about the secularisation of St. Patrick's Day.  In The Word magazine's March 2007 issue, Fr.  Vincent Twomey wrote, "It is time to reclaim St. Patrick's Day as a church festival." He questioned the need for "mindless alcohol-fuelled revelry" and concluded that "it is time to bring the piety and the fun together." 

As well as Dublin, many other cities, towns, and villages in Ireland hold their own parades and festivals, including Cork, Belfast, Derry, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick, and Waterford. 

Everyone's Irish on 17 March  

Sign promoting the drinking of Guinness beer on Saint Patrick's Day at Dublin's Guinness Storehouse 

The biggest celebrations outside Dublin are in Downpatrick, County Down, where Saint Patrick is rumoured to be buried.  The shortest St. Patrick's Day parade in the world takes place in Dripsey, Cork.  The parade lasts just 100 yards and travels between the village's two pubs. 

Argentina 

In Buenos Aires, a party is held in the downtown street of Reconquista, where there are several Irish pubs; in 2006, there were 50,000 people in this street and the pubs nearby.  Neither the Catholic Church nor the Irish community, the fifth largest in the world outside Ireland, take part in the organisation of the parties. 

Canada 

Montreal Saint Patrick's Day Parade (c.  1929) 

One of the longest-running and largest St. Patrick's Day parades in North America occurs each year in Montreal, whose city flag includes a shamrock in its lower-right quadrant.  The annual celebration has been organised by the United Irish Societies of Montreal since 1929.  The parade has been held annually without interruption since 1824.  St. Patrick's Day itself, however, has been celebrated in Montreal since as far back as 1759 by Irish soldiers in the Montreal Garrison following the British conquest of New France. 

Manitoba Saint Patrick's Day Festival 

In Manitoba, the Irish Association of Manitoba runs an annual three-day festival of music and culture based around St. Patrick's Day. 

Vancouver CelticFest (c.  2004) 

In 2004, the CelticFest Vancouver Society organised its first annual festival in downtown Vancouver to celebrate the Celtic Nations and their culture.  This event, which includes a parade, occurs each year during the weekend closest to St. Patrick's Day. 

Quebec Saint Patrick's Day Parade (1837-1926 and 2010-) 

In Quebec City, there was a parade from 1837 to 1926.  The Quebec City St-Patrick Parade returned in 2010 after an absence of more than 84 years.  For the occasion, a portion of the New York Police Department Pipes and Drums were present as special guests. 

Toronto Saint Patrick's Day Parade (c.  1863) 

There has been a parade held in Toronto since at least 1863.  The Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team was known as the Toronto St. Patricks from 1919 to 1927, and wore green jerseys.  In 1999, when the Maple Leafs played on Saint Patrick's Day, they wore green Saint Patrick's retro uniforms.  There is a large parade in the city's downtown core on the Sunday prior to 17 March which attracts over 100,000 spectators. 

Other Saint Patrick's Day Celebrations in Canada 

Some groups, notably Guinness, have lobbied to make Saint Patrick's Day a national holiday. 

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Saint Patrick's Day in Canada. 

In March 2009, the Calgary Tower changed its top exterior lights to new green CFL bulbs just in time for St. Patrick's Day.  Part of an environmental non-profit organisation's campaign (Project Porchlight), the green represented environmental concerns.  Approximately 210 lights were changed in time for Saint Patrick's Day, and resembled a Leprechaun's hat.  After a week, white CFLs took their place.  The change was estimated to save the Calgary Tower some $12,000 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 104 tonnes. 

Great Britain 

In Great Britain, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother used to present bowls of shamrock flown over from Ireland to members of the Irish Guards, a regiment in the British Army consisting primarily of soldiers from both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.  The Irish Guards still wear shamrock on this day, flown in from Ireland. 

Christian denominations in Great Britain observing his feast day include The Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church. 

Horse racing at the Cheltenham Festival attracts large numbers of Irish people, both residents of Britain and many who travel from Ireland, and usually coincides with St. Patrick's Day. 

Birmingham holds the largest St. Patrick's Day parade in Britain with a city centre parade over a two-mile (3 km) route through the city centre.  The organisers describe it as the third biggest parade in the world after Dublin and New York. 

London, since 2002, has had an annual St. Patrick's Day parade which takes place on weekends around the 17th, usually in Trafalgar Square.  In 2008 the water in the Trafalgar Square fountains was dyed green. 

Liverpool has the highest proportion of residents with Irish ancestry of any English city.  This has led to a long-standing celebration on St. Patrick's Day in terms of music, cultural events and the parade. 

Manchester hosts a two-week Irish festival in the weeks prior to St. Patrick's Day.  The festival includes an Irish Market based at the city's town hall which flies the Irish tricolour opposite the Union Flag, a large parade as well as a large number of cultural and learning events throughout the two-week period. 

The Scottish town of Coatbridge, where the majority of the town's population are of Irish descent, also has a Saint Patrick's Day Festival which includes celebrations and parades in the town centre. 

Glasgow has a considerably large Irish population; due, for the most part, to the Irish immigration during the 19th century.  This immigration was the main cause in raising the population of Glasgow by over 100,000 people.  Due to this large Irish population, there is a considerable Irish presence in Glasgow with many Irish theme pubs and Irish interest groups who run annual celebrations on St. Patrick's day in Glasgow.  Glasgow began an annual Saint Patrick's Day parade and festival in 2007. 

International Space Station 

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Saint Patrick's Day on the International Space Station. 

Astronauts on board the International Space Station have celebrated the festival in different ways.  Irish-American Catherine Coleman played a hundred-year-old flute belonging to Matt Molloy and a tin whistle belonging to Paddy Moloney, both members of the Irish music group The Chieftains, while floating weightless in the space station on Saint Patrick's Day in 2011.  Her performance was later included in a track called "The Chieftains in Orbit" on the group's album, Voice of Ages. 

Chris Hadfield took photographs of Ireland from earth orbit, and a picture of himself wearing green clothing in the space station, and posted them online on Saint Patrick's Day in 2013.  He also posted online a recording of himself singing "Danny Boy" in space. 

Japan 

St. Patrick's Parades are now held in many locations across Japan.  The first parade, in Tokyo, was organised by The Irish Network Japan (INJ) in 1992.  Nowadays parades and other events related to Saint Patrick's Day spread across almost the entire month of March. 

Malaysia 

The St. Patrick's Society of Selangor, which has been in existence since 1925, organises the annual St. Patrick's Ball, the biggest St. Patrick's Day celebration in Asia.  Guinness Anchor Berhad also organises 36 parties across the country in places like the Klang Valley, Penang, Johor Bahru, Malacca, Ipoh, Kuantan, Kota Kinabalu, Miri and Kuching. 

Montserrat 

The tiny island of Montserrat is known as "Emerald Island of the Caribbean" because of its founding by Irish refugees from Saint Kitts and Nevis.  Along with Ireland and the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, St. Patrick's Day is a public holiday.  The holiday also commemorates a failed slave uprising that occurred on 17 March 1768. 

Russia 

The first St. Patrick's Day parade took place in Russia in 1992.  Since 1999, there is an annual international "Saint Patrick's Day" festival in Moscow and other Russian cities.  The Moscow parade has both official and unofficial parts.  The first seems like a military parade and is performed in collaboration with the Moscow government and the Irish embassy in Moscow.  The unofficial parade is performed by volunteers and seems more like a carnival and show with juggling, stilts, jolly-jumpers and Celtic music.  In 2014, Moscow Irish Week was celebrated from 12 to 23 March, which includes St. Patrick's Day on 17 March.  Over 70 events celebrating Irish culture in Moscow, St.  Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Voronezh, and Volgograd were sponsored by the Irish Embassy, the Moscow City Government, and other organisations. 

South Korea 

The Irish Association of Korea has celebrated Saint Patrick's Day since 1976 in Seoul (the capital city of South Korea).  The place of parade and festival has been moved from Itaewon and Daehangno to Cheonggyecheon. 

Switzerland 

While Saint Patrick's Day in Switzerland is commonly celebrated on 17 March with festivities similar to those in neighbouring central European countries, it is not unusual for Swiss students to organise celebrations in their own living spaces on Saint Patrick's Eve.  Most popular are usually those in Zurich's Kreis 4.  Traditionally, guests also contribute with beverages and dress accordingly in green. 

United States 

Main article: Saint Patrick's Day in the United States 

St. Patrick's Day, while not a legal holiday in the United States, is nonetheless widely recognised and observed throughout the country as a celebration of Irish and Irish American culture.  Celebrations include prominent displays of the colour green, eating and drinking, religious observances, and numerous parades.  The holiday has been celebrated on the North American continent since the late eighteenth century.