Held in honor of Ireland’s patron saint, St Patrick’s Day is a holiday synonymous with partying, good food, and joyful Guinness drinking.
As people worldwide dive into another unforgettable celebration, you may be wondering about the significance of the special occasion.
Here is everything we know about St Patrick’s Day, including its history and the traditional ways to celebrate it.
When is St Patrick’s Day 2023?
St Patrick’s Day is always held on March 17, which falls on a Friday this year.
It’s not a bank holiday in the UK or a federal holiday in the US, but it is a public holiday in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Why is St Patrick’s Day celebrated in Ireland and across the world?
St Patrick’s Day is also known as the Feast of Saint Patrick and marks the date of the Irish patron saint’s death.
The celebration traditionally commemorates St Patrick bringing Christianity to Ireland.
It is observed by religious branches including the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Lutheran Church. It was made an official Christian feast day early in the 17th century, before becoming an official Irish public holiday in 1903.
St Patrick was a fifth-century Romano-British Christian missionary and priest.
It’s believed that he was born in Roman Britain in Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton, Scotland, in the year 387. He was then kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Gaelic Ireland aged 16.
St Patrick claimed during his time in Ireland to have found God, who told him a ship would be waiting to take him home at the coast.
Patrick studied to become a priest after going home, before returning to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity.
He died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland, on March 17, 461, after which he became a legendary figure and Ireland’s foremost saint.
What are St Patrick’s Day traditions?
Consumption of both food and drink has always been a big part of the day. Lent restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol were historically lifted so that revellers could wholeheartedly enjoy the celebrations.
Nowadays, the festivities often include traditional Irish foods, such as soda bread, as well as quintessential Irish tipples such as whiskey and Guinness.
Drowning the shamrock is an age-old St Patrick’s Day custom. This entails placing a shamrock at the bottom of the cup, before filling it and finishing the drink as a toast to either the people present, to Ireland, or to St Patrick himself.
It is said that St Patrick used shamrocks as a metaphor for the Christian Holy Trinity. As such, not only are they now a classic symbol of St Patrick’s Day, but also of Irish heritage more generally.
Green apparel, which is associated with Irish history and nationalism, and wearable shamrocks are synonymous with St Patrick’s Day. Common celebrations take the form of public parades and festivals, as well as cèilidhean, Irish traditional music sessions.
Since 2010, famous landmarks around the world have also been lit up green in honor of the day. Sydney Opera House and the Auckland Sky Tower were the first to take part, and the trend has now spread to more than 300 landmarks in 50 countries.
What St Patrick’s Day events are happening in London this year?
Like every year, the St Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival took over Trafalgar Square on Sunday, March 12.
However, if you missed it, don’t worry, as there are plenty of other celebrations happening across the capital this week.
The London Chamber Orchestra will be giving a special concert of Irish music at Searcy’s at 116 Pall Mall paired with a themed menu.
And, Boxpark Wembley will offer its guests live music, games, food and plenty of whiskey to mark the occasion.
If you’re after a night at the pub with your friends and family, why not stop by one of London’s many Irish pubs?
Or if you’re a workout lover, you can join the St Patrick’s Day Run on March 18. The 5K route around Hyde Park is followed by a get-together at an Irish-themed bar.
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