It’s a national holiday that is celebrated in more countries than any other and is the only day in which
everyone is a little Irish. One thing that everyone will have a little in them on the day is Guinness. First things first, let’s have a little history lesson
At 16 he was taken by an Irish raiding party and brought to Ireland as a slave. For 6 years he worked as a shepherd on the slopes of the Slemish Mountains in Co. Antrim. Patrick spent those 6 years in isolation and in prayer to God. During his 6th year as a slave, it is said that God sent Patrick a dream in which he was told to leave Ireland by going to the coast where he would find a ship waiting to sail to Britain.
After having returned to his family and friends, Patrick decided to pursue a life in the clergy. He travelled to France to begin his training. During his years studying to be a priest, he would hear in his dreams the call from the Irish, urging him to come back to Ireland.
Now that his training was complete Patrick returned to Ireland. He started to spread the word of God among the pagan Irish. He was able to ordain men of high faith to priesthood and was able to set up dioceses in larger towns. For 40 years Patrick preached and converted the pagans. 432 is believed to be the year Ireland was converted to Christianity.
Pota Pádraig/Patricks Pot
Legend has it that during one of St Patricks travels he visited an inn, where he was short-changed a shot of whiskey. In response to this Patrick told the innkeeper that there was a devil in his cellar that fed on the innkeeper’s dishonesty. Terrified by this, the innkeeper vowed to change his ways. Sometime later Patrick returned to the inn to find the innkeeper filling every ones’ glasses to the point of overflowing. He announced that the devil was now starving because of the generosity of the innkeeper and he banished it. He then proclaimed that everyone should have a drop of the ‘hard stuff’ on his feast day and thus a tradition was born.
This tradition is also known as ‘drowning the shamrock’ as it was customary to float a leaf of the shamrock on top of the whiskey before drinking.
Now that the history lesson is over, here are some fun facts you might not have known about St Patrick’s Day.
- St Patrick is also the Patron Saint of Nigeria. Many of the missionaries and priests that first started working in Nigeria were Irish and from Saint Patrick’s Missionary Society.
- The largest parade in the world is held in New York City and draws over a million spectators each year.
- Over 9 million pints are downed around the world each day with that figure doubling on St Patrick’s Day.
- Many cities in the U.S. dye their rivers green on St Patrick’s Day. Here are a few Chicago, Indianapolis, Washington and Tampa.
- Blue was the original colour associated with St Patrick, after it was adopted by the Order of St Patrick in the 1780s. Green may have taken over due to Ireland being known as the ‘Emerald Isle’ in later years.
- The first St Patrick’s Day celebration happened in Boston, 1737. While the first parade took place in New York City, 1762 by Irish soldiers serving in the British military.
- Every St Patrick’s Day the Irish leader or ambassador hands the U.S. president a bowl of shamrocks. Rumour has it that the shamrocks are immediately destroyed afterwards by the Secret Service due to it being a risk hazard. The tradition was first started to strengthen relations between the U.S. and Ireland after WWII.
- St Patrick’s Day was celebrated on the International Space Station twice. In 2011, Irish-American astronaut Catherine Coleman played a flute and tin whistle that belonged to members of the Chieftains. In 2013, Chris Hadfield celebrated by taking a photo of Ireland from space while singing Danny Boy.
- Don’t you hate it when you someone say St Patty’s Day well don’t worry. In 2016, Dublin Airport has posted a message on their Facebook page warning tourists not to call it St Patty’s Day.
By now you should know that the largest parade is held in New York but largest does not mean best. Here are a few countries that you would not think celebrate St Patrick’s Day:
Montserrat in the Caribbean is the only country other than Ireland in which St Patrick’s Day is a national holiday, but not for the reason you may think. March 17th is the annual anniversary of an unsuccessful slave revolt against its colonial masters, the majority of whom were Irish. This week-long festival includes African and Irish musical performances, a freedom run and a recreated slave village and feast.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires hosts the largest St Patrick’s Day Parade in South America. Though it is referred to as “The Paris of South America” the capitol of Argentina is actually home to the 5th largest Irish community in the world. While there is no parade, the city centre turns into a street party that features music, dancing and lots of craic.
St Patrick’s Day is celebrated all over Japan, however Tokyo is home to the largest parade. The parade began in the 90s to introduce Ireland to the Japanese and has evolved to include a mix of traditional Japanese dress and Irish costume.
Moscow has been the home of the St Patrick’s Day Parade for over 20 years. The parade will take place in Sokolniki Park in the city centre. Over 10,000 spectators are estimated to attend the parade. St Patrick’s Day also takes place during Irish Week, which is the biggest festival of Irish culture in Russia. It includes film and music festivals, parties in Irish pubs and other Irish related activities.
If you’re still interested in finding out about how they celebrate St Patrick’s Day in other countries, then here’s a link for you.