The 17th of March celebrates the most recognised patron Saint of Ireland – Saint Patrick.
Although St. Patrick’s Day is foremost a religious holiday, it has gradually become a celebration of Irish culture in general.
It is now said to have become the most widely celebrated saint’s day in the world!
Not only is it celebrated in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, many other countries such as Canada and the United States celebrate it too. It’s even reached China where I once spent the day in an Irish pub with a Spice Girls tribute band, a strange but memorable experience!
Here are a few interesting things related to the day:
- It is traditional to wear green. Many Irish wear green as a symbol of St. Patrick on the day. As well as wearing and displaying shamrocks. It is said he used the plant to explain to the Irish the Holy Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit using the three leaves of the native Irish clover. The shamrock is known as the symbol of Ireland.
- The day has become an opportunity for Ireland to showcase its culture after a push by the government of the Republic of Ireland in the 1990s to showcase the day as a festival celebrating all things Irish and providing opportunity and motivation for people of Irish descent to get involved.
- Tomorrow the Leaning Tower of Pisa will be lit in green to celebrate the day for the first time, as well as Niagara Falls. In the past the London Eye, Empire State Building and Burj Al Arab have all been lit in the colour. Tourism Ireland hopes it will put Ireland in the spotlight and encourage people to visit. You can watch highlights of last year’s marketing and how St. Patrick’s Day promotions reached up to 250 million potential visitors around the world.
- The week around St. Patrick’s Day usually involves Irish language speakers using more Irish during seachtain na Gaeilge or ‘Irish Week’. Irish which is also known as Gaelic is spoken by 44,000 people according to UNESCO, making it an endangered language. It is the first official language of Ireland with English being second.
- This weekend there will be many celebrations all over the world, including parades and cultural events. Liverpool which has the highest proportion of residents with Irish ancestry of any English city and will hold its annual parade.
- New York City has held its parade since 1762 which has become not only the largest in the United States but one of the largest in the world. In a typical year there are 150,000 marchers participating and it lasts five hours.
- A staggering 13 million pints of Guinness across the globe are set to be downed during St Patrick’s Day celebrations this weekend and 5 million of them will be in the UK.
Whatever you do to celebrate Irish culture tomorrow, whether it be wearing green or watching a parade, I hope you have a fun-filled St. Patrick’s Day!