St Patrick’s Day began as a religious celebration marking the death of Ireland’s patron saint. Yet it has evolved over the years into a global celebration of the Emerald Isle and all things Irish. Here’s a few fun facts about the day when everyone wants to wear a shamrock.
St Patrick’s Day isn’t just a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland. It’s also a public holiday in Northern Ireland, parts of Canada (Labrador and Newfoundland) and the British Overseas Territory of Montserrat.
There are St Patrick’s Day events and festivities across the globe, in particular, in the UK and USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and even as far afield as Argentina! This makes it the most widely celebrated public festival, observed in more countries worldwide than any other. Here are some of the most well-known and traditional celebrations outside Ireland.
St Patrick was a Fifth Century bishop and Christian missionary, thought to be from a wealth family in Roman Britain.
The popular myth that St Patrick drove snakes from Ireland, often shown in paintings and etchings, refers to his campaigns against the Druids in Ireland. There are many legends around St Patrick and this has built to his reputation and celebration as the most prominent Irish saint.
The shamrock is said to represent the Holy Trinity – the story goes that St Patrick used this to explain Christianity to the pagans living in Ireland. It became a tradition to wear a shamrock on St Patrick’s Day, or to wear green ribbons, badges or clothing, known as “the wearing of the green”. This dates back to the 17th Century.
The popular tradition of enjoying a few alcoholic drinks on the day came from the old Christian tradition of lifting the restrictions of Lent to celebrate this important day in the religious calendar with feasts, including alcohol.
Traditional St Patrick’s Day celebrations include public processions, parties, dances, feasts and banquets, and enjoying an Irish tipple or two: whisky, Guinness, beer, or cider being the most popular choices. There are also church services and local gatherings to mark the occasion.
Per capita, Ireland makes up the third biggest nation of tea drinkers in the world – in fact, the Irish drink more tea than China or England. After reading these tea facts in The Irish Times, we pondered this surprising news, in our #foodforthought column. Why not celebrate St Patrick’s Day with a nice cup of tea? We suggest a nice, strong brew – English Breakfast No. 27 should hit the spot.
Or if you’re a coffee drinker, you may feel inspired after Irish Coffee Day, which took place on 25th January – why not try a nice, silky Barista Italian Blend coffee with a tot of the finest Irish Whisky and cool, smooth cream for the perfect Irish Coffee?
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Seán Farrell – Founder, Chateau Rouge