What is St Patrick’s Day? Why do people wear green? How did it all come about?
This post aims to shed some light on the traditions of St Patrick’s Day and what Irish people normally do on this day. To do that, we interviewed a lovely native Irish girl from Cork, Clodagh Ryan on this topic.
Local Culture Guide: So tell us about St Patrick’s Day…
Clodagh: St.Patrick’s Day which falls on the 17th March, is a day for anyone – Irish or not – to let loose and have a bit of craic (fun). This holiday didn’t start out as one big party though, the history of St.Patrick’s day is a lot more modest than that.
St. Patrick’s Day was originally a Christian feast day and a day to commemorate St. Patrick (known as the Patron Saint of Ireland) and the arrival of Christianity to Ireland.
A common myth about St.Patrick is that he drove the snakes out of Ireland – which is just a myth as we never had any to begin with, they don’t like the cold! But that is a story that a lot of Irish people will remember being told as a child.
St. Patrick’s Day celebrations have definitely changed over the years, and the original reason for celebrating has definitely gotten lost somewhere between the parades, green beer and ‘kiss me I’m Irish’ attire.
For me, and my friends and family, St.Patrick’s day is a day to honor and remember who and where we come from. Irish people are very proud of being Irish, we were brought up this way and there’s something in our blood that makes us so happy about being Irish – ask a random Irish where they are from and see the proud look on their face when they give you their reply! We see this as a day to celebrate our culture – and we invite the whole world to celebrate it with us too.
Local Culture Guide: ..You must have big festivals/ parades in Ireland for St Patrick’s Day? Clodagh: Of course – Ireland holds parades all over the country. The first St.Patrick’s parade was in Dublin, our capital city, in 1931. The biggest parade outside of Dublin is usually in Co.Down – where St. Patrick is said to be buried. The shortest St Patrick’s Day parade in the world takes place in Dripsey, Cork. The parade lasts just 100 yards and travels between the village’s two pubs. St.Patrick’s Day is celebrated in countries all over the world too, with parades taking place in Australia, Canada, Scotland, Japan, Malaysia, Russia, South Korea, Switzerland and America to name a few.
I have celebrated St.Patrick’s day in Seoul, South Korea, in Goa, India and this year in Sydney, Australia. Of course nothing compares to being at home for this day but it is so nice to be able to celebrate it with friends no matter where in the world you are.
Local Culture Guide: Why do Irish people wear green / shamrock on St Patrick’s Day?
Clodagh: St Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish. The colour green has been associated with Ireland for hundreds of years – green is in our country’s flag and we are known as the ‘Emerald Isle ‘ – if you have ever flown into Ireland on a clear day you will know exactly why that is.
Local Culture Guide: Where did the drinking tradition during St Patrick’s Day come from?
Clodagh: Irish people are known for their love of a good pint and some of our drinks are very well known worldwide including Guinness, Baileys and Magners (Bulmers in Ireland). Usually when there is a party, anywhere, there is some sort of beverage involved. As this is a traditional Feast day, traditional drinks are involved. Not all Irish people drink on this day and it is definitely not a requirement to drink to join in the fun – some people do use it as an excuse to get the Guinness into them, but in my opinion, this day is about a whole lot more than drinking for Irish people – having a drink in hand is just a bonus so that we can say a cheers to Ireland – Sláinte agus Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit!!!
P.S – please don’t refer to this day as St.Patty’s day – that is not even a real thing! As one website puts it excellently:
IT’S PADDY, NOT PATTY. EVER.
SAINT PATRICK’S DAY? GRAND.
PADDY’S DAY? SURE, DEAD-ON.
IF YE MUST.
NO, YE GOAT!
Paddy is derived from the Irish, Pádraig: the source of those mysterious, emerald double-Ds.
Patty is the diminutive of Patricia, or a burger, and just not something you call a fella.
There isn’t a sinner in Ireland that would refer to a Patrick as “Patty”. It’s as simple as that.
Local Culture Guide: Thanks for the insights Clodagh! Now, who’s up for a good pint? If you have any questions about St Paddy’s Day, not Patty. Ever. Please post them here. We’d be happy to answer them for you.