17th of March is the day of St. Patrick – an Irish holiday that first started being commemorated among large communities of Irish immigrants in North America and is now celebrated in many other countries too.

St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and on the anniversary of his death, the streets become crowded with people celebrating his important history and the culture of Ireland during the famous parade. St. Patrick is a common topic for anyone living in Ireland for a while. If you are still unfamiliar, here are all important facts about St Patrick’s day and its history:

Who actually was Saint Patrick?

Born in 385 d.C, St Patrick was captured by Irish pirates at age of 16 during a mission through Britain to spread Christianity. After six years of suffering, he managed to escape to France where he lived in a monastery.

A few years later, St Patrick decided to go back to Ireland for mission work after finding a place as a cleric, and then as Bishop within the Christian faith. He worked hard at evangelizing new Christians and was very active in bringing the Irish and Celts into the Catholic religion. By the 600s he was already known as the Patron Saint of Ireland, a title held until today.

The story behind St. Patrick’s Day celebrations

St. Patrick’s day was celebrated first in America, around 1737, by the Charitable Irish Society of Boston. It started as a way of honoring and celebrating the Irish culture that so many colonists had been separated from. Over the years, it became a celebration of Irish culture also inside the country.

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade happened in New York in 1762, assembled by a group of Irish soldiers in the British military who marched down Broadway. However, the St Patrick’s parade didn’t become a thing in Ireland until 1931, when the first parade was held in Dublin. From then on the celebration has ceased to be just religious and became a five-day festive combining lots of Irish food, theatre, parades, and even some fireworks. The parades keep happening every year in many parts of Ireland and America, with people from Ireland and many other parts of the world taking over the streets while wearing the national colors – green, orange, and white

Saint Patrick’s Parade on Fifth Avenue, New York, 1909
The parade nowadays beneath our windows at 19-22 Dame Street

Why is the shamrock the symbol of St Patrick’s?

The shamrock began to be used as a symbol by the popular legend that the patrons have used the plant as a way to illustrate the Holy Trinity to new Christians. This also led to the use of green as the main color of the celebration, and over the years orange and white were also added.

How to celebrate St Patrick’s day if you’re in Ireland:

If this is going to be your first Saint Patrick’s Day in Ireland you’ve should have started to feel how the locals are excited about the upcoming date. Around here the celebration is immense, and the streets will be crowded with people from Ireland and all over the world celebrating together. Most Irish cities and towns start celebrating St. Patrick’s Day even before the official date of March 17th. This celebration starts from the 14th until the 18th of March. It’s the busiest period in Dublin, and planning ahead is essential to make sure you will really enjoy everything. You can check our article about what to do, where to go and what to see in Dublin during the Holiday by clicking here.

Posted by Erin School of English on Saturday, March 17, 2018
The parade as seen from Erin School of English

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To make it short, here are some essential tips:

  • Make sure to book your accommodation as soon as possible since most hostels and hotels are overbooked months before the St Patrick’s day;
  • The Temple Bar area will the epicenter of the festival and there will be music in every pub and party on the streets. But be aware that the pubs close to the Temple Bar are a bit more expensive than the other ones in town;
  • There are lots of ATMs in central Dublin, but the demand will also be high. Make sure to take some cash out and avoid losing precious time in ATMs queue;
  • The parade starts exactly at 12:00 A.M. in Dublin, on the Sunday 17th of March. It begins at Parnell Square, Dublin 1.

Author: Juliana Hansen