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Dragging your feet this week thanks to the time change? Well, you’re in luck because St. Patrick’s Day is today and it’s the perfect excuse to shake off that sluggishness and get into the spirit of this beloved Irish holiday.
But before you deck yourself in green, you should know there’s more to St. Paddy’s than parties, parades and pints of Guinness (though we seriously love those things, too).
A LOOK BACK
Feeling a bit green on the origins of St. Patrick’s Day?
We’ve got you covered.
For starters, Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland and inspiration behind this eponymous celebration, wasn’t actually Irish nor was his real name Patrick. (You read that right.) It’s believed he was born in Scotland under the name Maewyn Succat circa 375 AD.
Though he’s credited with converting Ireland to Christianity in the fifth century, St. Patrick only became religious while in Irish captivity at the age of 16.
Several years after escaping, he returned to the Emerald Isle as a missionary where he spent his remaining years baptizing people, consecrating bishops and establishing churches across the land. He’s believed to have died on March 17, 461 AD and the Irish have celebrated his life on that day for more than 1000 years.
After such a long (and we mean long) winter, it’s great to be celebrating a holiday that literally ushers in the start of spring. Here are just a few of the many traditions we love about St. Patrick’s Day:
• March On
One of the holiday’s most colourful customs, the St. Patrick’s Day parade can be traced back to New York City in 1762 when Irish soldiers serving in the British army marched in the street to reconnect with their ancestral roots. Today, the NYC parade is the world’s largest, stretching for 1.5 miles up Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. And the revelry doesn’t stop there! Cities from Tokyo to Toronto, Auckland to Oslo host annual parades to showcase their Irish pride.
• Like a Prayer
St. Patrick’s Day began as a religious holiday and is still considered one in Ireland where Christian observers generally attend church and partake in a large family dinners following mass. In fact, until 1961 pubs were required by law to close on March 17 but the government has since softened its stance enabling Irish citizens to party along with the rest of the world.
• Feeling Green
From festive-hued brews to fluorescent-dyed rivers, there is no shortage of green everything (and we mean everything) on St. Patrick’s Day. But did you know the original colour associated with this holiday was actually blue? Part of the reason for the change was to reflect Ireland’s longstanding nickname of the Emerald Isle, which brings us to…
• Just Leafy
Perhaps the best known of any Irish symbol, the shamrock is linked to the legend of St. Patrick and how he used its three distinct leaves to teach the Pagans about Christianity’s Holy Trinity. In Ireland, observers wear a small bunch of Shamrocks rather than wear green clothing to represent the three tenets of faith, hope and love and to display their Irish pride.
GOING GREEN IN THE GREAT WHITE NORTH
Canada has a thriving Irish population which, according to the 2016 Census, is around 4.6 million-strong.
It’s no wonder, then, that Canucks from coast to coast adore celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with one region loving it so much they turned it into a public holiday! That’s right the province of Newfoundland and Labrador gives locals a day off on the Monday closest to March 17.
(BRB, booking our trip to the East Coast.)
Canada also boasts some major street cred when it comes to St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. Montreal, for example, has hosted an annual (and downright epic) parade every year since 1824, while the country’s largest St. Patrick’s Day party (complete with fiddlers, Irish dancers and a pancake breakfast) takes place in Toronto.
BEST OF LUCK
Whether you’re celebrating with some Guinness (Sláinte!) or an Irish stepdance, we’ve compiled some St. Paddy’s Day trivia to keep you in the know through this festive holiday.
• The U.S. National Retail Federation estimates that 72% of 18- to 34-year-olds will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year.
• St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17 as a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland and as a bank holiday in Northern Ireland.
• Customary St. Patrick’s Day dishes include corned beef and cabbage, Irish stew, shepherd’s pie, Irish soda bread and the classic side dish of mashed potatoes and kale known as colcannon.• Traditional shamrocks shouldn’t be (but often are) confused with four-leaf clovers which are a rare mutation of the abundant plant, hence their reputation for being lucky!
• Guinness will be enjoyed in 150 countries worldwide on St. Patrick’s Day totalling an estimated 13 million pints (just please remember to drink responsibly).
Best wishes for a happy and safe St. Paddy’s Day!