Top 9 things you should know about St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland

St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland is a vibrant celebration of the nation’s patron saint. It colours the entire island in shades of green and fills the air with the sounds of music, laughter, and joy. Yet far from being limited to the Emerald Isle, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are a global phenomenon with festivities taking place as far away as Sydney, Australia to New York in the US – and everywhere in between. Irish communities worldwide cherish St. Patrick’s Day as a chance to share their culture and heritage, not only showcasing our love of the craic, but stirring a curiosity about Ireland and the meaning behind our national day.

In this blog, we’ll answer some of the most common questions about the meaning of St. Patrick’s Day about the man behind the festivities! 

1. What is St. Patrick’s Day celebrated for?

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in honour of St. Patrick, who is recognised for bringing Christianity to Ireland in the 5th century. It was first observed as a feast day by Christians in Ireland in the 10th century, and became an official Church holiday in the 17th century. It’s thought the very first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in 1601 in Florida! Beyond its religious significance, St. Patrick’s Day has become a celebration of Irish culture, identity, and pride, both at home and abroad.  

2. What happens in Ireland during St. Patrick’s Day? 

St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland is a whirlwind of festivities. Lively street parades are a common sight across many communities where colourful floats, marching bands, and performers dazzle spectators lining the streets. Many towns and cities host their own parades, each adding their unique, local flair to the celebration. Locals and visitors alike are often adorned in green, embracing the spirit of the day with dance and song. Parades are often followed by traditional Irish music sessions in cozy pubs across the country, with the mellow sounds of the guitar, violin, flute and the accordion (or squeezebox as it’s known locally!) creating the perfect environment for an evening sing along!

3. Why is St. Patrick’s Day important in Ireland?

St. Patrick is associated with Ireland’s Christian roots as well as the shamrock, which is widely recognised as being associated with the Emerald Isle. The shamrock was used by St. Patrick as a symbol of Christianity, which signified the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit). Today, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are awash with shamrock symbols and accessories, alongside the nation’s tricolour flag, leprechaun and rainbow motifs! 

St. Patrick’s Day holds immense cultural significance in Ireland, serving as a day of national pride and unity. It brings people from all walks of life together to celebrate their shared heritage and values. Additionally, the holiday plays a crucial role in promoting Irish tourism, as visitors flock to the country to experience its unique charm and hospitality and the vibrant festivities that are synonymous with “the craic”! 

4. Why is St. Patrick’s Day on 17 March?

St. Patrick’s Day falls on the 17th of March each year to commemorate the death of St. Patrick in 461 AD. While it was originally identified as a holy day, it has become an international cultural celebration, marked by parades, music, dancing and festivities.

5. What is the true story of St. Patrick?

There are many stories about St. Patrick, perhaps the most famous being that he drove the snakes out of Ireland. However, it is widely acknowledged that due to its geographic isolation, snakes likely never made it to Ireland in the first place. St. Patrick did however rid the island of pagans, establishing Catholicism as the dominant faith, and perhaps lending a symbolic meaning to the myth. 

The true story of St. Patrick is that he was born in Britain, perhaps Kilpatrick in Scotland. He was kidnapped by Irish invaders as a teenager and brought to Ireland as a slave. During his captivity, he found solace in his faith, eventually escaping his captors and returning home. Later in life he became a bishop and felt called to return to Ireland to spread the message of Christianity. He is responsible for Ireland’s modern religious roots and is honoured as the nation’s patron saint.  

6. Why is St. Patrick’s Day such a big deal?

It is estimated that between 50 and 80 million people around the world have Irish ancestry, making Irish diaspora among the largest globally. 

Across continents and cultures, Irish communities have kept the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day alive, infusing their adopted homes with the vibrant traditions of their homeland. From bustling cities to remote rural areas, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations honour the country’s rich history and heritage, with people of all backgrounds finding common ground in their appreciation for Irish culture.  

St. Patrick’s Day also holds special significance for those with Irish ancestry, serving as a poignant reminder of their roots. It’s a time for families to pass down traditions to younger generations, for friends to gather and reminisce, and for communities to bond over a shared sense of identity and belonging.

7. Is it St. Patty’s Day or St. Paddy’s Day?

St. Patrick’s Day affectionately goes by the nickname Paddy’s Day. Paddy is derived from the Irish version of Patrick, spelled Pádraig, and a nod to the Irish heritage and culture at the heart of the day’s celebrations. Paddy’s Day is used instead of Patty’s Day, which is the abbreviated form of the name Patricia.

8. What is St. Patrick’s Day in Irish?

In Irish, St. Patrick’s Day is known as “Lá Fhéile Pádraig,” which translates to “the Day of the Festival of Patrick.” It’s a day deeply rooted in Irish culture and heritage, honouring the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick.  

Irish speakers also use the greeting “Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh” which translates to “Blessings of St. Patrick’s Day upon you” or “Ádh Mór Oraibh” meaning “Good Luck to You” to share well-wishes and blessings on St. Patrick’s Day.

St. Patrick’s Day is on March 17 

This St. Patrick’s Day on March 17, whether you’re in Ireland or somewhere much further away, embrace the spirit of the celebration and join in the chorus of “Éirinn go Brách” (Ireland Forever). If you are thinking about coming to Ireland for work or study, or applying for citizenship, don’t hesitate to reach out to our experienced immigration team for advice on (01) 872 3143. We are more than happy to help you navigate the application process and make it as simple as possible! 

For more information on St. Patrick’s Day, please visit the following websites:

You May Also Like…