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What is St. Patrick's Day about?

Updated on March 6, 2021



Why St Patricks day?

St. Patrick's day has been a religious holiday for the Irish for centuries. Irish culture celebrates St. Patrick as one of the most popular patron saints of Ireland credited with the arrival of Christianity in Ireland although there were many other successful Catholic missions to Ireland. It was made a national holiday in Ireland in the 17th century and is currently celebrated by the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland & Labrador (the entire easternmost province of Canada), and Montserrat (in the West Indies).

The distinction for all of these locations is the Irish & Irish diaspora (emigrants and their descendants) that populate them. Additionally, the holiday is also recognized as a religious holiday by the Catholic church, Anglican Communion, Eastern Orthodox church and the Lutheran church.

Why celebrate St Patty's Day in the USA?

Between 1830 and 1914 almost 5 million Irish emigrated to the USA alone and currently over 41 million US citizens claim Irish as their main ethnicity, including me!

In the USA as well as Great Britain, Canada, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries St. Patrick's Day is celebrated by many, even those that are not from Irish decent love to celebrate the day. There is a saying about St. Patrick's day, "on this day, everyone is Irish!"

The first St. Patrick's Day celebration in America was organized in Boston Massachusetts in 1737 and the first official St. Patrick's Day parade was in New York City (some sites state 1762 and some 1766 as the first official parade year). Now a days over 100 cities in the USA hold St. Patrick's day parades.

St Patrick blue & order of St Patrick

Order of St Patrick
Order of St Patrick | Source

Why Green and Shamrocks?

Originally the color associated with St. Patrick was 'St. Patrick blue', many references to the Order of St. Patrick as well as British Royal attendance of special events in Ireland mention the use of 'St. Patrick blue' however the exact shade has been questioned in its authenticity and the debates have lessened its hold on the holiday.

Over the course of the last couple centuries the association of shamrocks as a learning aid for St. Patrick to help the Irish polytheistic peoples understand the Trinity of the Catholic religion has significantly influenced its adoption as the globally recognized color associated with the celebration of St. Patty's Day. You will still see the use of blue and blue fields on flags by the British royal family members and associated houses throughout Britain.

Even though we see the Irish flag as green, white and orange, the presidential flag of Ireland is still St. Patrick blue with a gold harp in the center.

What does orange mean on St. Patrick's Day?

If you wear orange on St. Patrick's day it shows that you are Protestant Irish or Scottish-Irish and your roots are probably from Northern Ireland. More recently with the peace agreement in Ireland the Green and Orange are starting to celebrate together once again. It is a very slow process and will still take years to evolve. Since it was recognized so prominently by Catholic Irish emigrants the color green and shamrocks are most commonly associated with St. Patrick's Day.


If someone forgets to wear green on St. Patty's Day a person wearing green is allowed to pinch them as a gentle reminder to "wear the green" however, if the person pinched is wearing green they are allowed to pinch back 10 times. So, by all means, wear green underwear and flash that person before you pinch them back!


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