If you want to travel to Ireland at a time when plane tickets are affordable, you can’t beat visiting the country for St. Patrick’s Day.
Paddy’s Day, as it is often referred to in Ireland, is a national holiday in both Ireland and Northern Ireland. Almost everyone gets the day off, and many Irish Catholics treat the day as a religious celebration.
You might be surprised to learn that people in Ireland celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in several ways that are just like the ways we celebrate in the United States. People dress up in green and attend any one of hundreds of parades that are held throughout the day all across the country. The biggest parade is held in Dublin, and is quite the national pride.
St. Patrick’s Day is often seen as a younger person’s holiday, and the same is true in Ireland. Younger people will spend the evening out in pubs and at parties with their friends. You might see a lot of shamrocks painted on faces at the local pubs or fresh shamrocks pinned to green clothing.
Interestingly, St. Patrick’s Day is the only national holiday in Ireland on which people wear green for patriotic reasons. Another fun fact: When St. Patrick’s Day – which is usually celebrated on March 17 – falls during the Christian celebration of Holy Week, the Irish government will move the official celebration of Paddy’s Day to another day. This happened most recently in 2008, but it won’t happen again until 2160.
In Northern Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is not celebrated to the same extent that it is in Ireland. It is a public holiday, but not a bank holiday in Northern Ireland, and primarily only Catholic people celebrate. Like Dublin, Belfast has an annual St. Patrick’s Day parade which many local businesses close for.
St. Patrick was a fifth-century Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. Supposedly, he was kidnapped and taken to Gaelic Ireland when he was sixteen, and after six years of working as a shepherd, he found God and returned home where he became a priest. He then dedicated himself to evangelizing. According to tradition, he died on March 17.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!