With the unpredictable fate of this year’s St. Patrick’s day parades, it’s a good moment to reflect on past years and what the 17th of March really means to many people.
The 17th of March appears in everyone’s calendars as St. Patrick’s Day Bank Holiday. Whether they celebrate or not it’s known to be a widespread celebration. Yet, many are unaware of the history behind the date, and why it’s so significant to many across the world.
Everyone knows that St Patrick’s day is a traditional Irish celebration. There are usually big parades, dances, marches and music in many major cities across the UK, Ireland and The United States. The focus of these celebrations is Irish culture. But what people don’t know is that this is actually an anniversary for the death of Saint Patrick.
So who was Saint Patrick?
According to History.com, Saint Patrick was the patron saint of Ireland who started out as a slave. It’s said that he was born in Roman Britain and kidnapped at the age of 16 by Irish pirates. During this time, St. Patrick became hugely committed to Christianity, believing that the Irish should be Christians like him.
Eventually Patrick broke free from enslavement and entered priesthood in France. After being ordained as a priest, he was sent to Ireland to spread Christianity in Ireland and support the Christian community. It’s believed that he died in circa 461 A.D.
His most recognisable work was the legend of St.Patrick where he used the now symbol of Ireland, the Shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity. The three leaves represent the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
When was the first celebrated St. Patrick’s Day?
The first recorded Saint Patrick’s Day parade was in Florida, USA – not Ireland. It’s believed that it was held in 1601 in what is now St. Augustine and in a Spanish colony. Over a century after, in 1772, New York City saw homesick Irish soldiers march the streets to honour Saint Patrick. From there, the celebrations and marches only grew into what we know and see today.
It’s unclear when the first celebrations were in England. According to numerous sources, there appeared to be debate over celebrating Saint Patrick alongside Saint George. However, parades have grown more prominent in the UK, with parades being held in London each year.
The first parade to be held in Ireland was in 1903, in Waterford. Since then, Dublin has been named as one of the best places to be on the 17th of March. Today, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Dublin run over five days and nights, showcasing the best of Irish culture. However, due to the current health concerns, the traditional parades won’t be going ahead.
Dublin’s Saint Patrick Festival typically includes many different events and displays, such as walking tours of history, art displays and performances from live musicians. However, due to the growing health concern surrounding the Coronavirus, many of these events have been cancelled or postponed. Check their website for more details.