To be sure, to be sure, it’s the day everyone wants to be Irish, St Patrick’s Day! All over the world from Japan to Russia to Argentina and back again, people go green for Ireland’s patron Saint Paddy on March 17.
You might think it’s strange that an Irish national holiday is such a big deal in so many countries but the Irish are prolific travellers and tend to take the love of their culture with them wherever they go. St Patrick’s Day celebrations as we now know them were actually born in 19th century America when a group of homesick soldiers stationed in New York decided to stage a parade in honour of all things Irish. The New York St Patrick’s Day Parade still continues to this day and is the largest parade in the world, with 150,000 participants and 3 million spectators every year!
Who was Saint Paddy?
He may be the patron saint of Ireland but did you know St Patrick wasn’t even Irish? He was actually born in Wales but was kidnapped by Irish Pagans as a teenager and forced into slavery. When he finally escaped and made it all the way home to Wales, an angel appeared to him in a vision telling him to go back to Ireland and preach Christianity to the Pagan people there. So because he was the person who bought Christianity to Ireland, the Irish made St Patrick their patron saint and his feast day is celebrated on the anniversary of his death, March 17.
‘The Wearing of the Green’
More is definitely more when it comes to the colour green on St Patrick’s Day. It’s not enough for those patriotic Irish to simply wear the colour; from swilling green Guinness to munching on green potato chips, the St Paddy’s Day revellers turn almost everything green. The city of Chicago even dyes the whole Chicago River a vibrant green for St Patrick’s Day every year.
Even famous landmarks get into the St Patrick’s Day spirit by ‘wearing the green’. The Pyramids of Giza, the leaning Tower of Pisa, the Sydney Opera House and the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro are just some of the icons that are illuminated by green light on March 17.
But green hasn’t always been the go for St Paddy’s Day – until the 18th century, blue was actually the colour associated with St Patrick! It only changed when the shamrock became a symbol of Ireland and people took to ‘wearing the green’ on their lapels to show their national pride. You’ve now got to put in a bit more effort than just pinning a shamrock to your lapel because Irish legend has it that green makes you invisible to leprechauns and they’ll pinch anyone they can see! So if you don’t want a leprechaun pinch, get in the spirit and go green.
A Real Irish Experience
Wherever you are in the world, there’s sure to be a St Patrick’s Day party or parade close by so why not get into the spirit by donning some green and getting out amongst it.
If the festivities leave you wanting more authentic Irish experiences, consider a trip to the motherland for The Gathering. This yearlong celebration of all things Irish is being held throughout 2013 in all corners of the country and with hundreds of community-run events covering sports, music and dance it’s sure to be one great party.
Trafalgar has a number of itineraries that can show you the charm of St Patrick’s adopted homeland from an insider’s perspective. Check out the Best of Ireland experience on our itineraries page.
You can also Win a Trip to Italy, including airfares, by entering our competition before March 26!