Saint Patrick’s Day, also referred to as Saint Paddy’s Day or Paddy’s Day, is an annual feast day which celebrates Saint Patrick (circa 385–461 AD), one of the patron saints of Ireland.
Saint Patrick’s Day is traditionally celebrated every year on March 17th. It is the national holiday in Ireland. It is a bank holiday in Northern Ireland and a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland. In Canada, Great Britain, Australia, the United States and New Zealand, it is widely celebrated but is not an official holiday.
Patrick travelled throughout Ireland, establishing monasteries across the country. He also set up schools and churches which would help him in his conversion of the Irish to Christianity.
It is said that the three-leafed shamrock (the symbol of Ireland) was used by Patrick to explain the Trinity to the pre-christian Irish. He used it in his sermons to represent the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Patrick’s mission in Ireland lasted for thirty years. After that time, Patrick retired to County Down. He died on March 17 in AD 461. That day has been commemorated as St. Patrick’s Day ever since.
The Saint Patrick’s Day custom came to America in the mid 18th century. The parade was first held in Boston in 1761. The New York parade is the largest, drawing millions of spectators and marchers.
On Saint Patrick’s Day, Irish people around the world celebrate their national Saint by wearing only green, the colour of Ireland, and by parading in the streets. It is thought that Saint Patrick’s Day might have become so popular because it takes place just days before the first day of spring.
More about Saint Patrick’s Day on the History Channel
More about Ireland on the BBC website