Revellers attend the St Patrick's Day parade in Dublin, Ireland on 17 March 2019
Revellers attend the St Patrick's Day parade in Dublin, Ireland on 17 March 2019

St Patrick’s Day 2022: What is the meaning behind it?

Is it a bank holiday and how do people celebrate? All of your questions answered

Chelsea Ritschel,Clémence Michallon
Thursday 17 March 2022 12:36
Comments

Whether you’re Irish or not, celebrating St Patrick’s Day is always a good idea.

On 17 Marche each year, thousands of people coming together to drink, dress in green, eat traditional food from Ireland and generally celebrate Irish heritage.

What is St Patrick’s Day, and where does it come from?

St Patrick’s Day, or the Feast of St Patrick, is a celebration in honour of the patron saint of Ireland, St Patrick.

The day of celebration, which marks the day of St Patrick’s death, was originally a religious holiday meant to celebrate the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, and made official by the Catholic Church in the early 17th century.

Observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Lutheran Church, the day was typically observed with services, feasts and alcohol.

Consumption has always been an integral part of St Patrick’s Day, as historically the day was celebrated with a day-long lift of the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol – which has contributed to the present-day drinking.

Interestingly, St Patrick wasn’t actually Irish. He is believed to have been born in either Scotland or Wales and sold into slavery in Ireland as a child.

In 1903, St Patrick’s Day became an official public holiday in Ireland.

This year, and every year, it is celebrated on 17 March. St Patrick’s Day 2022 falls on a Thursday.

What are shamrocks and leprechauns and why are they depicted in the celebrations?

Although St Patrick’s Day has mostly evolved into a cultural celebration of Irish heritage, certain traditions such as wearing green and shamrocks have prevailed.

We wear green to celebrate because green is the colour associated with Catholics in Ireland.

However, green wasn’t associated with the holiday until the 19th century. Prior to that, blue was often worn to celebrate.

Shamrocks – clover-like plants with three leaves – were, according to legend, used by St Patrick to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish.

Leprechauns, a mythical type of fairy in Irish folklore, also make an appearance during St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Often depicted as little men, leprechauns are usually pictured with a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

They are mischievous fairies known for playing jokes on people. But legend has it, if you catch one he will give you three wishes.

Is it a bank holiday in the UK, or a federal holiday in the US?

Sorry, you’ll have to let your hair down in your own time.

It’s not a bank holiday in the UK, and it’s not a federal holiday in the US. It is, however, a national holiday in Ireland.

What do people do on St Patrick’s Day and how do they celebrate?

The holiday has evolved into a mostly cultural celebration of Irish heritage marked with a day of drinking, green clothing and Irish-themed parades – though many of those haven’t been able to go ahead as planned due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to green clothing, beer, occasionally dyed green, and Irish whiskey are typically consumed to celebrate St Paddy’s Day.

Green around the gill: people celebrate St Patrick’s Day with dyed beer 

In the United States, Irish American people usually indulge in corned beef and cabbage.

But in Ireland and elsewhere in celebration of the holiday, typical Irish foods such as steak and Guinness pie or Irish soda bread are eaten.

How is St Patrick’s Day celebrated around the globe?

Ireland obviously hosts the longest St Patrick’s Day celebrations, with a week of festivities and the annual parade in Dublin drawing more than one million people.

In Great Britain, the day is celebrated with the third-largest parade in the world, after Dublin and New York.

The parade takes place in Birmingham but celebrations occur all over the country.

In New York City, the “official” St Patrick’s Day Parade, founded in 1762, typically attracts two million people.

While not a legal holiday, the day is widely recognised and celebrated all over the country.

Green top: the Empire State Building lit up for St Patrick’s Day (G

Other large St Patrick’s Day parades are held annually in Asia, the Caribbean and Canada.

To mark the day, notable landmarks are lit up in green or dyed green.

In previous years, the Sydney Opera House, the Space Needle in Seattle, the London Eye, the Empire State Building, the Chicago river and hundreds of other landmarks were lit green in honour of the patron saint.

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in