St. Patrick’s Day – the background story

St. Patrick’s Day (always on 17 March) is a big thing in Ireland. People throughout Ireland hold parades and festivals that celebrate Irish culture. The largest parade is in Dublin, but there will also be parades in small places like Doolin, Fanore and Lisdoonvarna.

Ireland’s most famous saint was born in 387 A.D. and grew up near the present day border between Scotland and England. He was taken to Ireland as a slave when he was 16. Six years later, he managed to escape and fled back to his home country where he studied Christianity before returning to Ireland as a missionary later in his life. He played an important role in peacefully converting Ireland’s inhabitants to Christianity. According to legend, he drove all snakes from the island, although these “snakes” probably represent a particular group of pagans or druids.

Many Christians believe that Patrick died on March 17 in the year 461 A.D. or 493 A.D. He is buried under Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, County Down. He was never formally canonized but many Christian churches view him as a saint. St Patrick, St Brigid of Kildare and St Columba are Ireland’s patron saints.

St Patrick’s Day became a public holiday in Ireland in 1903. It is not only celebrated in Ireland, but all around the world, particularly in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. Many international iconic buildings and landmarks will be illuminated green in honour of this day!

The shamrock is the most powerful symbol for St. Patrick’s Day. It is the leaf of the clover plant and an Irish Catholic symbol of the Holy Trinity. It is also a symbol of Ireland and a registered trademark of the Republic of Ireland.

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