Saint Patrick's Day (Lá ’le Pádraig or Lá Fhéile Pádraig), colloquially St. Paddy's Day or Paddy's Day, is an annual feast day which celebrates Saint Patrick (circa 385–461 AD), one of the patron saints of Ireland, and is generally celebrated on March 17.
The day is the national holiday of Ireland. It is a bank holiday in Northern Ireland and a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Montserrat, and the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. In the rest of Canada, Great Britain, Australia, the United States and New Zealand, it is widely celebrated but is not an official holiday.
It became a feast day in the Roman Catholic Church due to the influence of the Waterford-born Franciscan scholar Luke Wadding in the early part of the 17th century, and is a holy day of obligation for Roman Catholics in Ireland. The date of the feast is occasionally, yet controversially, moved by church authorities when March 17 falls during Holy Week; this happened in 1940 when Saint Patrick's Day was observed on April 3 in order to avoid it coinciding with Palm Sunday, and happened again in 2008, having been observed on 15 March. March 17 will not fall during Holy Week again until 2160.
The St. Patrick's Day parade in Dublin, Ireland is part of a five-day festival; over 500,000 people attended the 2006 parade. The St. Patrick's Day parade was first held in Boston in 1761, organized by the Charitable Irish Society. New York City's celebration began on 18 March, 1762 when Irish soldiers in the British army marched through the city, and the New York parade is the largest, typically drawing two million spectators and 150,000 marchers. The predominantly French-speaking Canadian city of Montreal, in the province of Québec has the longest continually running Saint Patrick's day parade in North America, since 1824; The city's flag has the Irish emblem, the shamrock, in one of its corners. Ireland's cities all hold their own parades and festivals, including Dublin, Cork, Belfast, Derry, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick, and Waterford. Parades also take place in other Irish towns and villages.
Other large parades include those in Savannah, Georgia (), Milwaukee, Wisconsin, () New London, Wisconsin (which changes its name to New Dublin the week of St. Patrick's Day) (), Dallas, Cleveland, Manchester, Birmingham, London, Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, Jackson, Mississippi, Boston, Buffalo, Houston, Chicago, Baltimore, Salt Lake City, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Rolla, Missouri, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Baton Rouge, Pittsburgh, Denver, St. Paul, Sacramento, San Francisco, Scranton, Seattle, Butte, Bayonne, New Jersey, Detroit, Syracuse, Newport, Holyoke, MA, New Haven, CT, Toronto, Vancouver, and throughout much of the Western world. The parade held in Sydney, Australia, is recorded as being the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.
As well as being a celebration of Irish culture, Saint Patrick's Day is a Christian festival celebrated in the Catholic Church, the Church of Ireland, and some other denominations. The day almost always falls in the season of Lent. Some bishops will grant an indult, or release, from the Friday no-meat observance when St. Patrick's Day falls on a Friday; this is sometimes colloquially known as a "corned-beef indult". When 17 March falls on a Sunday, church calendars (though rarely secular ones) move Saint Patrick's Day to the following Monday—and when the 17th falls during Holy Week (very rarely), the observance will be moved to the next available date or, exceptionally, before holy week. The public holiday in Ireland does not move and always remains at 17 March, being fixed on the State calendar.
In many parts of North America, Britain, and Australia, expatriate Irish and ever-growing crowds of people with no Irish connections but who may proclaim themselves "Irish for a day" also celebrate St. Patrick's Day, usually with the consumption of traditionally Irish alcoholic beverages (beer and stout, such as Murphy's, Beamish, Smithwicks, Harp, or Guinness; Irish whiskey; Irish coffee; or Baileys Irish Cream) and by wearing green-coloured clothing.
St. Patrick's Blue, not green, was the colour long-associated with St. Patrick. Green, the colour most widely associated with Ireland, with Irish people, and with St. Patrick's Day in modern times, may have gained its prominence through the phrase "the wearing of the green" meaning to wear a shamrock on one's clothing. At many times in Irish history, to do so was seen as a sign of Irish nationalism or loyalty to the Roman Catholic faith. St. Patrick used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pre-Christian Irish. The wearing of and display of shamrocks and shamrock-inspired designs have become a ubiquitous feature of the saint's holiday. The change to Ireland's association with green rather than blue probably began around the 1750s.
It was only in the mid-1990s that the Irish government 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 aim to:
The topic of the 2004 St. Patrick's Symposium was "Talking Irish," during which the nature of Irish identity, economic success, and the future were discussed. Since 1996, there has been a greater emphasis on celebrating and projecting a fluid and inclusive notion of "Irishness" rather than an identity based around traditional religious or ethnic allegiance. The week around Saint Patrick's Day usually involves Irish speakers using more Irish during seachtain na Gaeilge ("Irish Week").
The biggest celebrations on the island of Ireland outside Dublin are in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland, where Saint Patrick is rumoured to be buried following his death on 17 March 461. In 2004, according to Down District Council, the week-long St. Patrick's Festival had over 2,000 participants and 82 floats, bands, and performers, and was watched by over 30,000 people.
Belfast City Council recently agreed to give public funds to its parade for the very first time. In previous years funding was refused by pro-British Unionist councillors in the city for not being inclusive of Unionist citizens, the refusal to fund it was labelled as "anti-Irish racism" by Nationalist Belfast councillors.
Since the 1990s, Irish Taoisigh have sometimes attended special functions either on Saint Patrick's Day or a day or two earlier, in the White House, where they present a shamrock to the President of the United States. A similar presentation is made to the Speaker of the House. Originally only representatives of the Republic of Ireland attended, but since the mid-1990s all major Political parties in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are invited, with the attendance including the representatives of the Irish government, the Ulster Unionist Party, the Social Democratic and Labour Party, Sinn Féin and others. No Northern Irish parties were invited for these functions in 2005. In recent years, it is common for the entire Irish government to be abroad representing the country in various parts of the world. In 2003, the President of Ireland celebrated the holiday in Sydney, the Taoiseach was in Washington, while other Irish government members attended ceremonies in New York City, Boston, San Francisco, Buffalo, San Jose, Savannah, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, San Diego, New Zealand, Hong Kong, South Africa, Korea, Japan, and Brazil.
Saint Patrick's Day parades in Ireland date from the early 18th century..
Christian leaders in Ireland have expressed concern about the secularisation of St Patrick's Day. Writing in the Word magazine (March 2007), Fr. Vincent Twomey stated that, "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". The widespread use of alcoholic beverages on St. Patrick's Day may be rooted in the fact that the Roman festival of the Bacchanalia, a celebration of the deity Bacchus (to whom wine was sacred), was on 17 March.
The longest-running Saint Patrick's Day parade in Canada occurs each year in Montreal, Quebec. The parades have been held in continuity since 1824; however, St. Patrick's Day itself has been celebrated in Montreal as far back as 1759 by Irish soldiers in the Montreal Garrison following the British conquest of New France.
In Canada, Saint Patrick's Day is an official holiday only in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Some groups, notably Guinness, have lobbied to make Saint Patrick's Day a federal (national) holiday.
In the Province of Manitoba, the Irish Association of Manitoba runs an annual three day festival of music and culture based around St Patrick's Day.
In the City of Toronto from 1919 to 1927, the Toronto Maple Leafs were known as the Toronto St. Patricks, and wore green jerseys. In 1999 when the Leafs played on Hockey Night in Canada (national broadcast of the NHL) on St. Patrick's Day, the Leafs wore the green St. Pats retro jersey.
Although the baseball season is still in the spring training phase when St. Patrick's Day rolls around, the Toronto Blue Jays wear green uniforms for the occasion.
In Great Britain, the Queen Mother used to present bowls of shamrock flown over from Ireland to members of the Irish Guards, a regiment in the British Army consisting primarily of soldiers from both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. In 2002, London mayor Ken Livingstone organised 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.
The horse racing at the Cheltenham Festival attracts large numbers of Irish people, both residents of Britain and many who travel from Ireland, and usually coincides with Saint Patrick's Day.
The largest Saint Patrick's Day parade in Britain is held in Birmingham 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. Other Saint Patrick's Day parades take place around the country including in London where the largest minority community is Irish. The Scottish town of Coatbridge, where the majority of the town's population are of Irish descent, also has a day of celebration and parades in the town centre.
Manchester hosts a two week Irish festival in the weeks prior to St Patrick's Day, the city claims the largest Irish population in Great Britain outside of London. 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 (claiming to be the biggest outside of Dublin and New York based on entrant and float numbers) as well as a large number of cultural and learning events throughout the two-week period. The festival promotes itself as the largest in the UK.
Munich is a German city that holds a St. Patrick's Day parade due to the considerably large Irish community. The parade is organized by the German-Irish Society of Bavaria and has been held every year since 1996. Meanwhile it has evolved into the largest St.Patrick's Day parade in continental Europe and features not only Irish/Scots/English, but also German clubs and societies, with an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 participants and spectators in 2007. Following the 2 km parade, which usually takes place the Sunday preceding 17 March, is an open air party with live music and dance performances. Subject to its recent growth, the D.I.F. Bayern e.V. ("Deutsch-Irischer Freundeskreis" - German-Irish Circle of Friends) now claims that it organises the second largest parade in the whole of Europe. Patron of the parade is Munich's mayor Christian Ude and the celebration is attended by the ambassador and the honorary consul of the Republic of Ireland.
Each year the floats have become more numerous and sophisticated and the range of international and Russian participants and sponsors more wide-ranging such as Pepsi and Guinness. The local Irish bars of Moscow contribute their own floats.
The Moscow parade continued to be an annual event until 1998. The economic collapse of August 1998 meant that the 1999 parade was cancelled. In 2000, the St Patrick's Society of Russia managed to re-establish the St Patrick's Day parade with the co-operation of the Moscow city government, the Moscow police, various government bodies, the Irish embassy and the Irish community in Moscow.
Americans celebrate the holiday by wearing green clothing. Many people, regardless of ethnic background, wear green-coloured clothing and items. Traditionally, those who are caught not wearing green are pinched, though this practice is in fact alien to those who actually come from Ireland.
Some cities paint the traffic stripe of their parade routes green. Chicago dyes its river green and has done so since 1961 when sewer workers used green dye to check for sewer discharges and got the idea to turn the river green for St. Patrick's Day. Indianapolis also dyes its main canal green. Savannah dyes its downtown city fountains green. University of Missouri Rolla - St Pat's Board Alumni paint 12 city blocks kelly green with mops before the annual parade.
Many parades are held to celebrate the holiday including the cities listed below:
The longest-running Saint Patrick's Day celebrations in the U.S. are:
Savannah, GA, boasts the unofficial largest attendance with 750,000 in 2006. Unlike other cities, the parade in Savannah takes place on the actual day of Saint Patrick's Day; even if that day is during the work week. However for 2008, the parade took place on Friday, 14 March, to honour Holy week in the Catholic faith. In 2006, the Tánaiste was featured in the parade. Since the parade travels through Savannah's Historic Park District, one tradition that has developed has been the official "dyeing of the fountains" which happens several days before the parade. It has also become tradition for women spectators to kiss the Armed Forces Units and other military organization's male members. Savannah does not have an open container law so there is a proliferation of alcohol on River Street, Bay Street and in City Market.New Orleans, Louisiana New Orleans, Louisiana, the parades include the influence of New Orleans Mardi Gras, with float riders throwing spectators strings of beads, cabbages, and potatoes. Hot Springs, Arkansas Perhaps the smallest notable parade World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade, is said to take place in Hot Springs, Arkansas in the United States annually held on historic Bridge Street which became famous in the 1940s when Ripley’s Believe It or Not designated it “The Shortest Street in the World.” Boulder, Colorado claims to have the shortest parade, which is also less than a single city block.Syracuse, New York In the city of Syracuse, NY, Saint Patrick's celebrations are traditionally begun with the delivery of green beer to Coleman's Irish Pub on the first Sunday of March. Coleman's is located in the Tipperary Hill section of the city. Tipperary Hill is home to the World famous "Green-on-Top" Traffic Light and is historically the Irish section in Syracuse. Saint Patrick's Day is rung in at midnight with the painting of a Shamrock under the Green-Over-Red traffic light. Syracuse boasts the largest St. Patrick's day celebration per-capita in the United States with their annual Syracuse St. Patrick's Parade (), founded by Nancy Duffy, an honored journalist in the Central New York area and an active community leader. "The parade remains a major annual event, typically drawing an estimated crowd of more than 100,000 visitors to downtown Syracuse, as well as 5,000 to 6,000 marchers." New York City The New York parade has become the largest Saint Patrick's Day parade in the world. In a typical year, 150,000 marchers participate in it, including bands, firefighters, military and police groups, county associations, emigrant societies, and social and cultural clubs, and 2 million spectators line the streets. The parade marches up 5th Avenue in Manhattan and is always led by the U.S. 69th Infantry Regiment. New York politicians - or those running for office - are always found prominently marching in the parade. Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch once proclaimed himself "Ed O'Koch" for the day, and he continues to don an Irish sweater and march every year up until 2003, even though he is no longer in office.
The parade is organized and run by the Ancient Order of Hibernians. For many years, the St. Patrick's Day Parade was the primary public function of the organization. On occasion the order has appointed controversial Irish republican figures (some of whom were barred from the U.S.) to be its Grand Marshal.
The New York parade is moved to the previous Saturday (16 March) in years where 17 March is a Sunday. The event also has been moved on the rare occasions when, due to Easter falling on a very early date, 17 March would land in Holy Week. This same scenario is scheduled to arise again in 2008, when Easter will also fall on 23 March, but the festivities took place at their normal date and had record viewers. In many other American cities (such as San Francisco), the parade is always held on the Sunday before 17 March, regardless of the liturgical calendar.Scranton, Pennsylvania Due to the rich history of Scranton participation in St. Patrick's Day festivities it is one of the oldest and most populated parades in the United States. It has been going on annually since 1862 by the St. Patrick's Day Parade Association of Lackawanna County and the parade has gotten attention nationally as being one of the better St. Patrick's Day parades. The parade route begins on Wyoming Ave. and loops up to Penn Ave. and then Lackawanna Ave. before going back down over Jefferson Ave. to get to Washington Ave. Scranton hosts the third largest St. Patrick's Day Parade in the United States. In 2008, up to 150,000 people attended the parade. Seattle, Washington Due to Seattle's northern state climates, like Ireland, the city received many Irish immigrants. So many that Seattle and Galway are sister cities. Every year on St. Patrick's Day, the Seattle Parade starts at 4th Avenue and Jefferson to the Reviewing Stand at Westlake Park, ending officially at the Seattle Center. The annual Irish Week Festival is enormous, including step dancing, food, historical and modern exhibitions, and Irish lessons. This is all celebrated on St. Patrick's Day and sometimes carries on until the 15, 16, and 17 March.Las Vegas, Nevada The Southern Nevada, (formerly Las Vegas) Sons of Erin has put on a parade since 1966. It was formerly held on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas, later moved to 4th street. Since 2005, the parade has been held in downtown Henderson. It is one of the biggest parades in the state of Nevada. It also consists of a three day festival, carnival and classic car show in Old Town Henderson.Baltimore, Maryland The festivities of the St. Patrick's Day Parade (since 1956) include a 5K race with a finish line at Power Plant Live! and a brunch (both on the day of the parade) plus numerous fundraisers in Baltimore's Irish restaurants, leading up to the event.Rolla, Missouri
Rolla is home to the Missouri University of Science & Technology (formerly known as University of Missouri-Rolla, and Missouri School of Mines), an engineering college. St. Patrick is the patron saint of engineers, and the school and town's celebrations last for a week or more, with a downtown parade held the Saturday before St. Pat's. A royal court are crowned, and the streets of the city's downtown area are painted solid green. In 2008, Rolla celebrates its 100th St. Patrick's Day festival.
In previous years, a pit of green liquid was made by students as part of the festivities, and named 'Alice' -- stepping into Alice was a rite of bravery. In recent years, however, the university faculty has banned the practice out of health concerns.Baseball Although the baseball season is still in the spring training phase when St. Patrick's Day rolls around, some teams celebrate by wearing St. Patrick's Day themed uniforms. The Cincinnati Reds were the first team to ever wear St. Patrick's Day hats in 1978. The Boston Red Sox were the second team to start wearing St. Patrick's Day hats in 1990. Many teams have since wearing St. Patrick's day themed jerseys, including the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1980s and Boston Red Sox in 2004. Since then it has become a tradition of many sports teams to also wear special uniforms to celebrate the holiday. The Los Angeles Dodgers also have a history with the Irish-American community. With the O'Malley family owning the team and now Frank McCourt, the Dodgers have had team celebrations or worn green jerseys on St. Patrick's Day. The Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies also wear St. Patrick's Day caps and jerseys. Other teams celebrate by wearing kelly green hats. These teams include: the Chicago Cubs, the Chicago White Sox, the New York Mets, the San Diego Padres, the Atlanta Braves, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Kansas City Royals, the Seattle Mariners and the St. Louis Cardinals.
Nearly all major league baseball teams now produce St. Patrick's day merchandise, including Kelly green hats, jerseys, and t-shirts.Food Corned beef and cabbage is the most common meal eaten in the United States for St. Patrick's Day, even though historically, corned beef and cabbage is an American (rather than a traditionally Irish) meal.
In the United States, many people have also made the holiday a celebration of the colour green. These people, besides wearing green on that day, may also stage dinner parties featuring all green foods.