St. Patrick’s Day is here!
It’s now one of the biggest parties in the world. Every 17 March, millions of people around the world celebrate St Patrick’s Day, even if they don’t have any Irish ancestry at all. Many more watch the special parades that take place in cities around the world or simply party at home with traditional food, drink and music.
If you’ve never celebrated “Paddy’s Day”, now’s the time to try! So, what’s it all about, and can you join in the fun?
Who was Saint Patrick, and why do we celebrate him?
Like many historic figures, the story of Saint Patrick has become a mixture of fact and myth over the centuries. But there’s plenty we definitely know about him.
For starters, even though he is famously the Patron Saint of Ireland, he wasn’t actually born on the Emerald Isle. In fact, he was born across the water in Britain at some point in the 4th century. As a 16-year-old, he was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders. They took young Patrick back with them to Ireland and he was forced to work as a shepherd for them for six long years. Alone and afraid on the hills, he found solace in his Christian faith.
When he finally won his freedom, Patrick began trying to convert the people of Ireland to Christianity (a big job since most people were Pagans. By the time he died, it’s said he had made converts across Ireland. He was made a Saint and his Feast Day is held on March 17, the day of his death in around 460. However, there’s no truth to the popular myth that St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland – the country was snake-free when he got there!
What was once a sombre religious festival is now one big party, for Irish and non-Irish alike. It’s a time of parades, all things green, traditional folk music, dancing and, in many places, drinking lots of Guinness, the famous Irish beer.
How to celebrate in style!
Since there’s hardly a place in the world without some Irish links, you’re likely to find a St Patrick’s Day party near you. Perhaps the most famous of all, the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade was first held in 1995. Since then, many cities around the world host parades, complete with floats celebrating Irish culture, riotous music.
Traditionally, families would go to Church on 17 March to observe the Feast Day. They would then return home to enjoy a large lunch of roasted meat, potatoes, cabbage, black pudding and vegetables before sitting down to watch the parades on television together.
These days, however, many people celebrate St Patrick’s Day by going out with friends to themed Irish pubs or any other bar celebrating the occasion. Sales of Guinness soar on this one day and most places will have traditional Irish music, complete with fiddles, penny whistles and dancing. Enjoying a night in a proper Irish pub for St. Patrick’s Day is something everyone should experience at least once!
If all that sounds too boisterous to you, then how about enjoying an evening with friends, listening to some Irish music and trying to learn a few Irish words or phrases? Or invite some friends round and treat them to some green cookies and green drinks, including festive beer.
What to wear on St. Patrick’s Day
There’s only one real rule when it comes to St. Patrick’s Day fashion: think green! Apart from that, feel free to keep it subtle, or go as wild as possible! This is a laid-back holiday, and one of the few occasions where nobody really judges you for what you are wearing.
Don’t be surprised to see many people wearing head-to-toe green. Slogan t-shirts (“Kiss me, I’m Irish!”) are also popular for St. Patrick’s Day, particularly at evening parties and are guaranteed to raise a smile or two, at least at the start of the night. In the United States, a full-on ‘Leprechaun’ costume, complete with white stockings, a green waistcoat, top hat and fake red, flowing beard is a popular “Paddy’s Day” choice. However, these are much less popular in Ireland itself.
For an understated look, simply add a green shamrock to your outfit. Traditionally, the shamrock is pinned to the right breast (and ideally blessed by a priest or bishop beforehand!). Or add a splash of green by wearing a sash, a green skirt or a pair of bright green shoes that will gran people’s eyes when you take part in the first jig of the evening.
So, whatever you do, and whatever you wear for St. Patrick’s, remember: Keep it green, keep it light-hearted and keep it fun! Check our event in LadyPopular