Saint Patrick's Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick (Irish: Lá Fhéile Pádraig, lit. 'the Day of the Festival of Patrick'), is a religious and cultural holiday held on 17 March, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick (c. 385 – c. 461), the foremost patron saint of Ireland.
Saint Patrick's Day was made an official Christian
drinking alcohol were lifted for the day, which has encouraged and propagated the holiday's tradition of alcohol consumption.
Saint Patrick's Day is a
national festival. Modern celebrations have been greatly influenced by those of the Irish diaspora, particularly those that developed in North America. However, there has been criticism of Saint Patrick's Day celebrations for having become too commercialised and for fostering negative stereotypes of the Irish people.
Saint Patrick was a 5th-century Romano-British Christian missionary and Bishop in Ireland. Much of what is known about Saint Patrick comes from the Declaration, which was allegedly written by Patrick himself. It is believed that he was born in
Romano-British family. His father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest in the Christian church. According to the Declaration, at the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Gaelic Ireland. It says that he spent six years there working as a shepherd and that during this time he found God. The Declaration says that God told Patrick to flee to the coast, where a ship would be waiting to take him home. After making his way home, Patrick went on to become a priest.
According to tradition, Patrick returned to Ireland to convert the
Irish to Christianity. The Declaration says that he spent many years evangelising in the northern half of Ireland and converted thousands.
Patrick's efforts were eventually turned into an allegory in which he drove "snakes", heathen practices, out of Ireland, despite the fact that actual snakes were not known to inhabit the region.
Tradition holds that he died on 17 March and was buried at Downpatrick. Over the following centuries, many legends grew up around Patrick and he became Ireland's foremost saint.
Today's Saint Patrick's Day celebrations have been greatly influenced by those that developed among the Irish diaspora, especially in North America. Until the late 20th century, Saint Patrick's Day was often a bigger celebration among the diaspora than it was in Ireland.
Celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, Irish traditional music sessions (
Since 2010, famous landmarks have been lit up in green on Saint Patrick's Day as part of Tourism Ireland's "Global Greening Initiative" or "Going Green for St Patrick's Day". The Sydney Opera House and the Sky Tower in Auckland were the first landmarks to participate and since then over 300 landmarks in fifty countries across the globe have gone green for Saint Patrick's Day.
Christians may also attend
drinking alcohol are lifted for the day. Perhaps because of this, drinking alcohol – particularly Irish whiskey, beer, or cider – has become an integral part of the celebrations. The Saint Patrick's Day custom of "drowning the shamrock" or "wetting the shamrock" was historically popular. At the end of the celebrations, especially in Ireland, a shamrock is put into the bottom of a cup, which is then filled with whiskey, beer, or cider. It is then drunk as a toast to Saint Patrick, Ireland, or those present. The shamrock would either be swallowed with the drink or taken out and tossed over the shoulder for good luck. 
Irish Government ministers travel abroad on official visits to various countries around St Patrick's Day to promote Ireland.
Wearing green and shamrocks
A Saint Patrick's Day greeting card from 1907
On Saint Patrick's Day, it is customary to wear
triskele when he uses the shamrock to explain the Trinity".Patricia Monaghan says there is no evidence the shamrock was sacred to the pagan Irish.Jack Santino speculates that it may have represented the regenerative powers of nature, and was recast in a Christian context—icons of St Patrick often depict the saint "with a cross in one hand and a sprig of shamrocks in the other".
The first association of the colour green with Ireland is from a legend in the 11th century
The wearing of the 'St Patrick's Day Cross' was also a popular custom in Ireland until the early 20th century. These were a Celtic Christian cross made of paper that was "covered with silk or ribbon of different colours, and a bunch or rosette of green silk in the centre".
and the Spire on O'Connell Street on Saint Patrick's Day
Franciscan scholar Luke Wadding. Saint Patrick's Day thus became a holy day of obligation for Catholics in Ireland. It is also a feast day in the Church of Ireland, part of the Anglican Communion. The church calendar avoids the observance of saints' feasts during certain solemnities, moving the saint's day to a time outside those periods. Saint Patrick's Day is occasionally affected by this requirement, when 17 March falls during Holy Week. This happened in 1940, when Saint Patrick's Day was officially observed on 3 April to avoid it coinciding with Palm Sunday, and again in 2008, where it was officially observed on 15 March. Saint Patrick's Day will not fall within Holy Week again until 2160. However, the popular festivities may still be held on 17 March or on a weekend near to the feast day.
In 1903, Saint Patrick's Day became an official public holiday in Ireland due to the
The first Saint Patrick's Day parade in Ireland was held in
Gaelic League and in Waterford they opted to have a procession on Sunday 15 March. The procession comprised the Mayor and members of Waterford Corporation, the Trades Hall, the various trade unions and bands who included the 'Barrack St Band' and the 'Thomas Francis Meagher Band'. The parade began at the premises of the Gaelic League in George's St and finished in the Peoples Park, where the public were addressed by the Mayor and other dignitaries. On Tuesday 17 March, most Waterford businesses—including public houses—were closed and marching bands paraded as they had two days previously.
On Saint Patrick's Day 1916, the Irish Volunteers—an Irish nationalist paramilitary organisation—held parades throughout Ireland. The authorities recorded 38 St Patrick's Day parades, involving 6,000 marchers, almost half of whom were reported to be armed. The following month, the Irish Volunteers launched the Easter Rising against British rule. This marked the beginning of the Irish revolutionary period and led to the Irish War of Independence and Civil War. During this time, Saint Patrick's Day celebrations in Ireland were muted, although the day was sometimes chosen to hold large political rallies.
The celebrations remained low-key after the creation of the
mass attended by government ministers. In 1927, the Irish Free State government banned the selling of alcohol on St Patrick's Day, although it remained legal in Northern Ireland. The ban was not repealed until 1961.
In Northern Ireland, the celebration of Saint Patrick's Day was affected by sectarian divisions. A majority of the population were ProtestantUlster unionists who saw themselves primarily as British, while a substantial minority were Catholic Irish nationalists who saw themselves primarily as Irish. Although it was a public holiday, Northern Ireland's unionist government did not officially observe St Patrick's Day. During the conflict known as the Troubles (late 1960s–late 1990s), public St Patrick's Day celebrations were rare and tended to be associated with the Catholic community. In 1976, loyalistsdetonated a car bomb outside a pub crowded with Catholics celebrating St Patrick's Day in Dungannon; four civilians were killed and many injured. However, some Protestant unionists attempted to 're-claim' the festival, and in 1985 the Orange Order held its own Saint Patrick's Day parade. Since the end of the conflict in 1998 there have been cross-community St Patrick's Day parades in towns throughout Northern Ireland, which have attracted thousands of spectators.
In the mid-1990s the government of the Republic of Ireland began a campaign to use Saint Patrick's Day to showcase Ireland and its culture. The government set up a group called St Patrick's Festival, with the aims of creating a world-class national festival and "to project, internationally, an accurate image of Ireland as a creative, professional and sophisticated country with wide appeal". The first Saint Patrick's Festival was held on 17 March 1996. In 1997, it became a three-day event, and by 2006, the festival was five days long. More than 675,000 people attended the 2009 parade, and that year's festival saw almost 1 million visitors, who took part in festivities that included concerts, outdoor theatre performances, and fireworks. From 2006 to 2012 the Skyfest formed the centrepiece of the Saint Patrick's Festival.
Christian leaders in Ireland have expressed concern about the secularisation of Saint Patrick's Day. In The Word magazine's March 2007 issue, Fr Vincent Twomey wrote, "It is time to reclaim St Patrick's Day as a church festival". He questioned the need for "mindless alcohol-fuelled revelry" and concluded that "it is time to bring the piety and the fun together".
One of the biggest celebrations outside the cities is in Downpatrick, County Down, where Saint Patrick is said to be buried. The shortest Saint Patrick's Day parade in the world formerly took place in Dripsey, County Cork. The parade lasted just 23.4 metres and traveled between the village's two pubs. The tradition began in 1999, but ended after five years when one of the pubs closed.
Duke of Cambridge in place of his wife. Fresh Shamrocks are presented to the Irish Guards, regardless of where they are stationed, and are flown in from Ireland.
While some Saint Patrick's Day celebrations could be conducted openly in Britain pre 1960s, this would change following the commencement by the IRA's bombing campaign on mainland Britain and as a consequence this resulted in a suspicion of all things Irish and those who supported them which led to people of Irish descent wearing a sprig of shamrock on Saint Patrick's day in private or attending specific events. Today after many years following the Good Friday Agreement, people of Irish descent openly wear a sprig of shamrock to celebrate their Irishness.
Christian denominations in Great Britain observing his
The Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church.
Birmingham holds the largest Saint Patrick's Day parade in Britain with a city centre parade over a two-mile (3 km) route through the city centre. The organisers describe it as the third biggest parade in the world after Dublin and New York.
London, since 2002, has had an annual Saint Patrick's Day parade which takes place on weekends around the 17th, usually in Trafalgar Square. In 2008 the water in the Trafalgar Square fountains was dyed green. In 2020 the Parade was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Liverpool has the highest proportion of residents with Irish ancestry of any English city. This has led to a long-standing celebration on Saint Patrick's Day in terms of music, cultural events and the parade.
Manchester hosts a two-week Irish festival in the weeks prior to Saint Patrick's Day. The festival includes an Irish Market based at the city's town hall which flies the Irish tricolour opposite the Union Flag, a large parade as well as a large number of cultural and learning events throughout the two-week period.
Porte des Bombes
illuminated in green on Saint Patrick's Day of 2014
The first Saint Patrick's Day celebrations in Malta took place in the early 20th century by soldiers of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers who were stationed in Floriana. Celebrations were held in the Balzunetta area of the town, which contained a number of bars and was located close to the barracks. The Irish diaspora in Malta continued to celebrate the feast annually.
Today, Saint Patrick's Day is mainly celebrated in Spinola Bay and
St Julian's, although other celebrations still occur at Floriana and other locations. Thousands of Maltese attend the celebrations, "which are more associated with drinking beer than traditional Irish culture."
Norway has had a Saint Patrick's Day parade in Oslo since 2000, first organized by Irish expatriates living in Norway, and partially coordinated with the Irish embassy in Oslo.
The first Saint Patrick's Day parade in Russia took place in 1992. Since 1999, there has been a yearly "Saint Patrick's Day" festival in Moscow and other Russian cities. The official part of the Moscow parade is a military-style parade and is held in collaboration with the Moscow government and the Irish embassy in Moscow. The unofficial parade is held by volunteers and resembles a carnival. In 2014, Moscow Irish Week was celebrated from 12 to 23 March, which includes Saint Patrick's Day on 17 March. Over 70 events celebrating Irish culture in Moscow, St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Voronezh, and Volgograd were sponsored by the Irish Embassy, the Moscow City Government, and other organisations.
Saint Patrick's Day festival celebration in Coatbridge
The Scottish town of
a Saint Patrick's Day Festival which includes celebrations and parades in the town centre.
Glasgow has a considerably large Irish population; due, for the most part, to the Irish immigration during the 19th century. This immigration was the main cause in raising the population of Glasgow by over 100,000 people. Due to this large Irish population, there are many Irish-themed pubs and Irish interest groups who hold yearly celebrations on Saint Patrick's day in Glasgow. Glasgow has held a yearly Saint Patrick's Day parade and festival since 2007.
While Saint Patrick's Day in Switzerland is commonly celebrated on 17 March with festivities similar to those in neighbouring central European countries, it is not unusual for Swiss students to organise celebrations in their own living spaces on Saint Patrick's Eve. Most popular are usually those in Zurich's Kreis 4. Traditionally, guests also contribute with beverages and dress in green.
Although it is not a national holiday in
Vilnia River is dyed green every year on the Saint Patrick's Day in the capital Vilnius.
Montreal hosts one of the longest-running and largest Saint Patrick's Day parades in North America
One of the longest-running and largest Saint Patrick's Day (French: le jour de la Saint-Patrick) parades in North America occurs each year in Montreal, whose city flag includes a shamrock in its lower-right quadrant. The yearly celebration has been organised by the United Irish Societies of Montreal since 1929. The parade has been held yearly without interruption since 1824. Saint Patrick's Day itself, however, has been celebrated in Montreal since as far back as 1759 by Irish soldiers in the Montreal Garrison following the British conquest of New France.
In Saint John, New Brunswick Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated as a week-long celebration. Shortly after the JP Collins Celtic Festival is an Irish festival celebrating Saint John's Irish heritage. The festival is named for a young Irish doctor James Patrick Collins who worked on Partridge Island (Saint John County) quarantine station tending to sick Irish immigrants before he died there himself.
In Manitoba, the Irish Association of Manitoba runs a yearly three-day festival of music and culture based around Saint Patrick's Day.
In 2004, the CelticFest Vancouver Society organised its first yearly festival in downtown
Celtic Nations and their cultures. This event, which includes a parade, occurs each year during the weekend nearest Saint Patrick's Day.
Some groups, notably Guinness, have lobbied to make Saint Patrick's Day a national holiday.
In March 2009, the Calgary Tower changed its top exterior lights to new green CFL bulbs just in time for Saint Patrick's Day. Part of an environmental non-profit organisation's campaign (Project Porchlight), the green represented environmental concerns. Approximately 210 lights were changed in time for Saint Patrick's Day, and resembled a Leprechaun's hat. After a week, white CFLs took their place. The change was estimated to save the Calgary Tower some $12,000 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 104 tonnes.
Since 2019, the City of Waterloo, Ontario has had to contend with an ever-growing massive street party that has coincided with the Saint Patrick's Day celebrations. In 2023, police could be seen putting fences up on Ezra Avenue to discourage partiers to participate in the unauthorized event that has cost the city as much as $750,000 a year for police, paramedics, and municipal services. 
Saint Patrick's Day, while not a legal holiday in the United States, is nonetheless widely recognised and observed throughout the country as a celebration of Irish and Irish-American culture. Celebrations include prominent displays of the colour green, religious observances, numerous parades, and copious consumption of alcohol. The holiday has been celebrated in what is now the U.S since 1600, with the first parade occurring in 1601.
It is customary for the Irish Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) to meet with the President of the United States on or around Saint Patrick's Day. Traditionally the Taoiseach presents the US President a Waterford Crystal bowl filled with shamrocks. This tradition began in 1952 when the Irish Ambassador to the US, John Hearne, sent a box of shamrocks to President Harry S. Truman. From then it became a yearly custom for the Irish ambassador to send Saint Patrick's Day shamrocks to an official in the US President's administration, although on some occasions the shamrocks were given personally by the Irish Taoiseach or Irish President to the US President in Washington. After the meeting between Taoiseach Albert Reynolds and President Bill Clinton in 1994, the presenting of the shamrocks became a yearly custom.
In Buenos Aires, a party is held in the downtown street of Reconquista, where there are several Irish pubs;
Irish community, the fifth largest in the world outside Ireland,
take part in the organisation of the parties.
The island of Montserrat is known as the "Emerald Island of the Caribbean" because of its founding by Irish refugees from Saint Kitts and Nevis. Montserrat is one of three places where Saint Patrick's Day is a public holiday, along with Ireland and the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The holiday in Montserrat also commemorates a failed slave uprising that occurred on 17 March 1768.
Saint Patrick's Day is not a public holiday in Australia, although it is celebrated each year across the country's states and territories. Festivals and parades are often held on weekends around 17 March in cities such as Sydney,Brisbane,Adelaide, and Melbourne. On occasion, festivals and parades are cancelled. For instance, Melbourne's 2006 and 2007 Saint Patrick's Day festivals and parades were cancelled due to sporting events (Commonwealth Games and Australian Grand Prix) being booked on and around the planned Saint Patrick's Day festivals and parades in the city. In Sydney the parade and family day was cancelled in 2016 due to financial problems. However, Brisbane's Saint Patrick's Day parade, which was cancelled at the outbreak of World War II and wasn't revived until 1990, was not called off in 2020 as precaution for the COVID-19 pandemic, in contrast to many other St Patrick's Day parades around the world.
The first mention of Saint Patrick's Day being celebrated in Australia was in 1795, when Irish convicts and administrators, Catholic and Protestant, in the
Irish-Australians to do so, the authorities paid for an individual to carry the flag at the head of the parade. This individual was later assaulted by two men who were later fined in court.
From 1878 to 1955, Saint Patrick's Day was recognised as a public holiday in New Zealand, together with
St Andrew's Day (Scotland).Auckland attracted many Irish migrants in the 1850s and 1860s, and it was here where some of the earliest Saint Patrick's Day celebrations took place, which often entailed the hosting of community picnics. However, this rapidly evolved from the late 1860s onwards to include holding parades with pipe bands and marching children wearing green, sporting events, concerts, balls and other social events, where people displayed their Irishness with pride. While Saint Patrick's Day is no longer recognised as a public holiday, it continues to be celebrated across New Zealand with festivals and parades at weekends on or around 17 March.
Chris Hadfield took photographs of Ireland from Earth orbit, and a picture of himself wearing green clothing in the space station, and posted them online on Saint Patrick's Day in 2013. He also posted online a recording of himself singing "Danny Boy" in space.
Saint Patrick's Day celebrations have been criticised, particularly for their association with
Saint Patrick's Day celebrations have also been criticised for fostering demeaning stereotypes of Ireland and Irish people. An example is the wearing of 'leprechaun outfits', which are based on derogatory 19th century caricatures of the Irish. In the run up to Saint Patrick's Day 2014, the Ancient Order of Hibernians successfully campaigned to stop major American retailers from selling novelty merchandise that promoted negative Irish stereotypes.
Irish culture, claim Irish identity, and enact Irish stereotypes.
The Saint Patrick's Day Test is an international rugby league tournament that is played between the US and Ireland. The competition was first started in 1995 and continued in 1996, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2011, and 2012. Ireland won the first two tests as well as the one in 2011, with the US winning the remaining 5. The game is usually held on or around 17 March to coincide with Saint Patrick's Day.
^Doug Bolton (16 March 2016). "One Irish creative agency is leading the charge against 'St. Patty's Day'". The Independent. Archived from the original on 12 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018. That's the thinking behind the No More Patty Google Chrome extension, created by Dublin-based creative agency in the Company of Huskies. The extension can be installed in a few clicks, and automatically replaces every online mention of the "very wrong" 'Patty' with the "absolutely right" 'Paddy'.
^ abRitschel, Chelsea; Michallon, Clémence (17 March 2022). "What is the meaning behind St Patrick's Day?". The Independent. Retrieved 17 March 2022. The day of celebration, which marks the day of St Patrick's death, is a religious holiday meant to celebrate the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, and made official by the Catholic Church in the early 17th century. Observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Lutheran Church, the day was typically observed with services, feasts and alcohol.
. In many culture, identity perception is supported by constitutive myths, traditions and rituals (e.g. the Jewish Passover, the myth of the foundation of Rome [the tale of Romulus and Remus] and St. Patrick's Day, which commemorates the arrival of Christianity to Ireland and celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish in general).
from the original on 21 November 2015. Retrieved 13 November 2010. For most Irish-Americans, this holiday (from holy day) is partially religious but overwhelmingly festive. For most Irish people in Ireland the day has little to do with religion at all and St. Patrick's Day church services are followed by parades and parties, the latter being the best attended. The festivities are marked by Irish music, songs, and dances.
from the original on 19 August 2020. Retrieved 13 November 2010. Like many other forms of carnival, St. Patrick's Day is a feast day, a break from Lent in which adherents are allowed to temporarily abandon rigorous fasting by indulging the forbidden. Since alcohol is often proscribed during Lent the copious consumption of alcohol is seen as an integral part of St. Patrick's day.
from the original on 6 October 2015. Retrieved 13 November 2010. The 40-day period (not counting Sundays) prior to Easter is known as Lent, a time of prayer and fasting. Pastors of Irish- American parishes often supplied "dispensations" for St. Patrick s Day, enabling parishioners to forego Lenten sacrifices in order to celebrate the feast of their patron saint.
. There is no evidence that the clover or wood sorrel (both of which are called shamrocks) were sacred to the Celts in any way. However, the Celts had a philosophical and cosmological vision of triplicity, with many of their divinities appearing in three. Thus when St Patrick, attempting to convert the Druids on Beltane, held up a shamrock and discoursed on the Christian Trinity, the three-in-one god, he was doing more than finding a homely symbol for a complex religious concept. He was indicating knowledge of the significance of three in the Celtic realm, a knowledge that probably made his mission far easier and more successful than if he had been unaware of that number's meaning.
. In some ways, though, the Christian mission resonated: pre-Christian devotion was characterized by, for example, the worship of gods in groups of three, by sayings collected in threes (triads), and so on – from all of which the concept of the Holy Trinity was not so very far removed. Against this backdrop the myth of Patrick and his three-leafed shamrock fits quite neatly.
^Homan, Roger (2006). The Art of the Sublime: Principles of Christian Art and Architecture. Ashgate Publishing. p. 37.
^Armao, Frederic. "The Color Green in Ireland: Ecological Mythology and the Recycling of Identity". Environmental Issues in Political Discourse in Britain and Ireland. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013. p. 184
from the original on 3 October 2015. Retrieved 13 November 2010. The most famous church in the United States is dedicated to him, St. Patrick's in New York City. St. Patrick's Day is celebrated by people of all ethnic backgrounds by the wearing of green and parades. His feast, which is on the General Roman Calendar, has been given as March 17 in liturgical calendars and martyrologies. The Church of England, the Episcopal Church in the USA, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America observe his feast on this day, and he is also commemorated on the Russian Orthodox calendar.
^Holmes, Evelyn (12 March 2016). "Crowds gather for St. Patrick's Day celebrations downtown". Abc7 Chicago. American Broadcasting Company. Archived from the original on 13 March 2016. Retrieved 13 March 2016. Large crowds gathered for Saturday's St. Patrick's Day festivities downtown. Although St. Patrick's Day is actually on a Thursday this year, Chicago will be marking the day all weekend long. Some started the day at Mass at Old St. Patrick's Church in the city's West Loop neighborhood. Spectators gathered along the riverfront in the Loop for the annual dyeing of the Chicago River, which began at 9 am
. p25. Retrieved 2 February 2021 via National Library of Australia
^The Southern Cross. (20 February 1931). St. Patrick's Day: The Adelaide Celebration: Meeting of the Committee. The Southern Cross. AdelaideSouth Australia. p7. Retrieved 2 February 2021 via National Library of Australia