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Saint Patrick's Day

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St Patrick in a woodcut from the Nuremberg Chronicle, 1493

Saint Patrick's Day is the feast day of St Patrick. It is the day of St Patrick's death, and commemorates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland.

The day is observed by the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Lutheran Church, and people of Irish descent around the world.

Saint Patrick[edit | edit source]

Not much is known about St Patrick. He was born in Roman Britain to a wealthy family in the 5th century.

Patrick was 16 years old when he was captured by Irish raiders and taken into Ireland. He escaped after six years of slavery, and returned to Britain.

Patrick was kept a slave for six years near Slemish, a mountain in County Antrim, Northern Ireland

In later years, he went back to Ireland to teach and Christianize the Irish at great risk to his personal safety. He used a shamrock to teach the concept of the Trinity. Legend says he drove the snakes out of Ireland.

St. Patrick died on 17 March. He is said to be buried at Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, County Down.

Traditions and celebrations[edit | edit source]

Shamrock Oxalis acetosella

In places where the day is observed, people attend mass, then turn the day over to celebrating and feasting.

Most Irish people wear something green on the day like a tie, hair ribbon, or shamrock. The phrase "the wearing of the green" means to wear a shamrock on one's clothing.

Children watch a St Patrick's Day parade in 2012 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

New York City, Boston, Dublin, and many other places have parades with a local celebrity (such as the police chief or mayor) acting as Grand Marshal. Pots of shamrocks are bought and sold, and the day ends with a community, neighborhood, or family dinner of corned beef and cabbage served with green beer and Irish soda bread.


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