As an Irish born company St. Patricks Day is Ireland’s national holiday. A day to celebrate with parades and festivals, céilithe (Irish traditional music sessions), and the wearing of green attire or shamrocks. Take a look below of some of the traditions and myths and legends.

Myth & Legend

According to legend, Saint Patrick was a Christian missionary and bishop. It is believed his real name was Maewyn Succat and he was said to have lived around 400AD. He grew up in Roman Britannia which was an area in Great Britain that was governed by the the Roman Empire. At the age of 16 Maewyn was captured by raiders and kept as a slave in Mount Slemish in Ireland for six years. One day he heard a voice telling him he was soon going to go home and that a ship was ready for him. So Patrick escaped, fled 200 miles to a port and persuaded a ship’s captain to allow him on board. It is believed that he met up with his parents in Wales before travelling to France where he became a priest and later a bishop. He returned to Ireland years later converting the pagans to Christianity in the northern half of the country. He would use shamrocks (a sprig of clover) to explain the Holy Trinity to those he preached to, resulting in the widespread presence of the plants on St Patrick’s Day.

Traditions

St Patrick’s Day parades began in North America in the 18th Century but did not spread to Ireland until the 20th century. Over time, many parades have become akin to a carnival. There is also an increased effort to use the Irish language; especially in Ireland where the week of St Patrick’s Day is called Seachtain na Gaeilge or “Irish Language Week”. A recent tradition has also been for famous landmarks around the world to be lit up in green on St Patrick’s Day.

Interesting Facts

  1. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in New York in the 1760s.
  2. For many years, blue was the color most often associated with St. Patrick. Green was considered unlucky. St. Patrick’s blue was considered symbolic of Ireland for many centuries and the Irish Presidential Standard is still blue.
  3.  In Chicago every year, the Plumbers Local 110 union dyes the river “Kelly” green. The dye lasts for about five hours.
  4.  Traditionally, every year, the Irish leader hands a crystal bowl full of shamrock to the US President. The shamrock, grown in Kerry, is immediately destroyed by the Secret Service after the exchange.
  5. For many years, Dripsey in County Cork had the world’s shortest parade, just 77 feet, the distance between two pubs – The Weigh Inn and The Lee Valley. Currently, the town of Hot Springs, Arizona, claims to have the shortest parade – a 98-foot route on Bridge Street. Recent participants included the Irish Elvises and the San Diego Chicken.