St. Patrick’s Day Is March 17

photo credit: cobalt123 via photopin cc

photo credit: cobalt123 via photopin cc

On March 17, we will celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland.

Right now, you might have two questions:

  1. What is a patron saint?
  2. Why do American’s celebrate an Irish person?

Good questions. I will try to answer them and more.

What Are Patron Saints?

In the Catholic faith, saints are people who talk to God about specific things. If you are taking an airplane trip, the patron saint of air travelers (Joseph of Cupertino) can ask God to help you stay safe. If you are getting married, the patron saint of marriage (John Francis Regis) can ask God to help your marriage. Irish Catholics might pray to St. Patrick, asking him to ask God to help their country.

Who Was Saint Patrick?

St. Patrick was a real person who lived in Britain and Ireland around the 5th century. He was born in Britain during the time of the Roman Empire, and later in life, he lived in Ireland as a Christian missionary. Historians believe that he died on March 17, 461.

As a missionary, St. Patrick used shamrocks (small plants with 3 leaves like the ones in the picture above) to explain the Christian idea that God exists in three forms. Because of this, Irish Catholics attached shamrocks to their clothes. These days, people wear green clothes on St. Patrick’s Day.

Why Do Americans Celebrate an Irish Holiday?

As you know, people come to the United States from many different countries for many different reasons. In the mid-1800s, about a million Irish immigrants came to the United States because there was not enough food in Ireland. At that time, the population of the United States was only about 17 million, so the arrival of 1 million people was a lot. It was enough to change the culture of the United States. Those Irish immigrants brought their culture, holidays, and traditions with them, and we still celebrate one of their holidays – St. Patrick’s Day – today.

How Do Americans Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

photo credit: skeggy via photopin cc

photo credit: skeggy via photopin cc

Over time, the traditional Irish celebration of St. Patrick’s Day has changed a lot. Americans (even Americans with no Irish heritage at all) might celebrate Irish or Irish-American culture on St. Patrick’s Day by:

  • wearing green clothes
  • pinching people who don’t wear green clothes
  • drinking Guinness (or other Irish) beer
  • marching in or watching parades
  • carrying Irish flags
  • dressing like leprechauns
  • eating corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes

 St. Patrick’s Day in Raleigh

Raleigh will have a St. Patrick’s Day parade on Saturday, March 14 at 10:00 a.m. After the parade, there will be a festival in City Plaza (at the south end of Fayetteville Street). Check out this website for more information on the parade, the festival, and St. Patrick! There will be food, live music, and dancing, as well as Irish jewelry and other small items for sale. The parade and festival are free, so put on your green clothes and go enjoy an Irish-American holiday downtown!

For more information on St. Patrick’s Day, check out this fun video made by!