When Is Saint Patrick’s Day

Wearing the Green on Saint Patrick’s Day

Americans celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a parade down Main Street, lots of green beer, Irish cuisine and tee shirts that read “Kiss Me I’m Irish”. In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is a Christian holiday that celebrates the glory of Saint Patrick in a festival that lasts up to five days.

Very few details of Saint Patrick’s life are known but one incontrovertible fact is the date of his death on March 17, 493. The actual birthday and lifespan are still unknown. Born into privilege in Wales, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and sold into slavery in Ireland. After six years of forced labor, he escaped and made his way home to his family. It is said Saint Patrick spent his captivity tending sheep and swine and in constant meditation and prayer. A message from God showed him a way to escape to return home. Years later, he returned to Ireland as an ordained bishop. Little is known about his mission and work in Ireland that led him to be hailed as the patron saint of Ireland in the 7th century. Pious mythology spins a tale of Saint Patrick driving all the snakes from Ireland by chasing them into the sea. However, scientific study of post glacial Ireland reports Ireland never had a population of snakes.

One of the most famous icons of this holiday in Ireland is a three-leaved Shamrock that is worn in lapels, and on caps or clothing. Legend records Saint Patrick used the Shamrock as a symbol representing the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) making the wearing of a Shamrock on clothing a deeply religious Irish tradition dating back to 17th century Ireland.

Once strictly a religious holiday, St. Patrick’s Day became a public holiday with the passing of the Bank Holiday Act in 1903 Ireland and later a law requiring the closing of pubs on March 17 in observance of this religious holiday. The law was repealed in the 1970’s and local pubs became the centers of celebration in Ireland.

The largest celebration of the holiday takes place near Dublin in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland, the burial location of Saint Patrick after his death on March 17. The celebrations have grown over the years from a day of parades and feasts to a five day festival that attracts nearly a million enthusiastic people in observance. In Ireland, the day is celebrated with a feast in honor of the patron of Ireland, Saint Patrick.

When Is Saint Patrick’s Day 2012
Saint Patrick’s Day falls on Saturday, March 17, 2012