Saint Patrick's Day

St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is one of Christianity's most widely known figures. But for all his celebrity, his life remains somewhat of a mystery. Ask any questions here about celebrating St. Patrick's Day.

4,001 Questions
Saint Patrick's Day

Why is Saint Patrick's Day celebrated?

St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland, died on 17 March 461 AD and the day has been celebrated ever since. St. Patrick spent thirty years building and setting up ministries and places of worship all around Ireland.

Since the earliest centuries of Christianity, it has been a custom to celebrate the anniversary of saints' deaths. This allows believers to honor the saint's accomplishments and celebrate their entry into heaven. A "feast day" is designated for every saint, even when the exact date of death of a saint is not known.

St. Patrick was a fifth-century English (or perhaps Scottish) missionary to Ireland. Scholars agree he is a historical figure and that he converted many of the pagans on the island to Christianity, but dismiss most of the legend that has developed about him over the centuries.

The feast day of St. Patrick has been observed in Ireland on March 17 for hundreds of years. The date falls during the fasting season of Lent, but on St. Patrick's Day the prohibitions against eating meat were lifted, and the Irish would celebrate their patron saint with dancing, drinking, and feasting on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.

One of the most widespread of today's St. Patrick's Day celebrations, the St. Patrick's Day parade, began not in Ireland but in America. It consisted of Irish soldiers serving in the English army and took place in New York City on March 17, 1762. The parade helped the soldiers connect with their Irish roots and their fellow Irishmen. In 1848, several Irish Aid societies in New York decided to combine their parades into a single St. Patrick's Day Parade. This parade is the oldest and the largest civilian parade.

Today, Irish expatriates, those of Irish descent, and ever-growing crowds of people with no Irish connections whatsoever celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

Another contributor said:

Not surprisingly, the origin of St. Patrick's day has a lot to do with a man named Saint Patrick. He was supposedly born in the late fourth century with the given named Maewen. Until he was sixteen years old, he considered himself a pagan. He was sold into slavery by a group of Irish marauders that raided his village. While he was a captive, he became closer to God. He escaped after six years and went to Gaul where he studied in a monastery for twelve years. There he came to believe that his calling was to convert pagans to Christianity. He wanted to return to Ireland, but his superiors appointed St. Palladius instead. Two years later, however, he transferred to Scotland. Patrick was then appointed as the second bishop to Ireland. Because he was successful at winning converts, the Celtic Druids arrested him several times, but he escaped anyway. He established monasteries across the country, and set up schools and churches. He described himself as a "humble-minded man, pouring forth a continuous paean of thanks to his Maker for having chosen him as the instrument whereby multitudes who had worshiped idols and unclean things had become the people of God."

There are more legends than facts about him, one of which tells about how he drove the snakes from Ireland. It is true that there are no snakes there, but there probably never were any. In pagan religions, serpent symbols were common and worshiped, so it was most likely symbolic of putting the end to pagan practice. He stayed there for about thirty years. He was the patron saint and the national apostle of Ireland. No one knows for sure how he died. One says that he died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland on March 17, 460 A.D. Another account says he died at Glastonbury, England, and was buried there. The chapel of St. Patrick still exists as part of Glastonbury Abbey. The first St. Patrick's day took place not in Ireland, but in the United States. Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City on March 17, 1762. Over the next thirty-five years, Irish patriotism among American immigrants flourished. When they got together to have their parades and parties, newspapers made fun of them, but they soon realized that their numbers gave them power. Political hopefuls began to pay attention to them because of the large numbers of votes they could receive, and they went to St. Patrick's Day parades.

In 1948, President Truman attended New York City's parade. Saint Patrick's Day has become associated with everything Irish, green, gold, shamrocks, and luck. For people who celebrate it for spiritual reasons, it is a traditional day for spiritual renewal and offering prayers for missionaries. It is celebrated on March 17th because that is the day that St. Patrick died. The holiday is observed all around the world, but especially, of course, in Ireland. Almost all businesses other than restaurants and pubs close, and many Irish attend mass. In American cities with a large Irish population, they celebrate with parades, wearing green, music and songs, Irish food and drink, and activities for kids like crafts, coloring, and games. Some communities even dye rivers or streams green. In some places, if you forget to wear green, other people are allowed to pinch you as a friendly reminder. If someone pinches someone who is wearing green, however, they get to pinch the other person ten times.

Saint Patrick's Day
Holidays and Traditions
Plants and Flowers

What’s the difference between a four-leaf clover and a shamrock?

I guess I get where this can be confusing, because both are clovers, but it’s pretty clear: A shamrock has three leaves, and a four-leaf clover has, well, four.

Though there are around 300 species of clover, a shamrock isn't one of them—in fact, it could be any of them. Any type of clover that typically has three leaves can be considered a shamrock. The shamrock is the main symbol of St. Patrick’s Day and all things Irish because it’s supposedly what St. Patrick used to illustrate the concept of the Holy Trinity. Four-leaf clovers, on the other hand, are just freaks of nature in those same species of clover.

History of Ireland
Saint Patrick's Day

Why do people get pinched on Saint Patrick's Day if they do not wear green?

It's thought that the pinching started in the early 1700s, about the time that awareness of St. Patrick's as a holiday came to the fore, too, in Boston, in the Massachusetts colony. They thought if you wore green, it made you invisible to the Leprechauns, which was good because they would pinch anyone they could see. So the pinching is to warn and remind you about the Leprechauns.

Pinching those not wearing green on St. Patrick's Day is an American tradition, having really nothing to do with Ireland or St. Patrick Wrong. I have lived in Ireland. The truth is, Irish people think Americans are crazy. St. Patrick's Day is not even remotely celebrated over there as heavily as it is in the US.

WikiAnswers users share their ideas on the origin:

  • Many years ago, playful Irish children began the tradition of pinching people who forgot to wear green on St. Patrick's Day and the tradition is still practiced today.
  • You get pinched because you're a nonconformist.
  • Pinching gives you a bruise so you can have some green on you.
  • The act of pinching on St. Patrick's day began in America with Irish settlers who tried to get their kids to behave by telling them that fairies would come pinch them.
Saint Patrick's Day

What are odds of finding a four leaf clover?

The odds of finding a four-leaf clover are 1/10,000 or 0.01%. So if you're feeling lucky, remember the odds. Never tell me the odds. -Hon Solo

History of Ireland
Saint Patrick's Day

What is the symbolic meaning of a shamrock?

For the Celtic Druids, three was a religiously mystical number. They regarded the shamrock as a sacred plant because its leaves formed a triad.

An enduring story of St. Patrick holds that the shamrock was used by him, to help illustrate the Holy Trinity. Through its use he was able to increase people's understanding of God and church, and how they were connected. St. Patrick is said to have used the shamrock to symbolize how The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit can be separate but also part of the same entity. However, though the story is persistent, it remains a myth for lack of corroborating evidence or support.

Saint Patrick's Day

Why do people wear green on Saint Patrick's Day?

One of the reasons that one wears green on St. Patrick's Day is because the Catholic side of Ireland is identified with green, and St. Patrick is a Catholic Saint credited with converting the island to Christianity. Whereas the Protestants are identified with orange, and are often called "Orangemen," as in King William the Orange. The clashes in Ireland between the Catholics and Protestants are often clashes of the green and the orange. The irony is that the Irish flag, is supposed to represent the unity of the two with the white between the two colors representing unity. The traditional pinching of a person who wears orange on St. Patrick's Day is a mild form of the violence that has so often occurred in the past as both factions have had St. Patrick's Day marches/parades. In Ireland, you only wear green if you are Catholic. Protestants all wear orange. The US does not observe this tradition. The day is celebrated with parades, green beer and lots of shamrock decorations. On St. Paddy's day, everyone is Irish.

History: Just before the 1798 Rebellion in Ireland if you wore a shamrock in your hat, it signified your support for the Rebellion. Hence the saying "the wearing of the green." Green was also the colour of "Society of United Irishmen," a republican revoluntionary organisation. This organisation launched the 1798 Rebellion and may I add that the forefathers/founders of this Organisation, despite public misconception were a mixture of Presbyterians, Church of Ireland and Catholics.

Another answer: The wearing of Green stems from the ancient Celtic practice of wearing green during the Vernal Equinox to celebrate the rebirth of the Earth. When Christianity invaded Ireland, many of the Irish traditions were adopted into practice, to make conversion easier. Saint Patrick included using bonfires and adopted the symbol of the sun onto the cross, creating what is now known as the Celtic Cross. Since the local Pagan population was hesitant to give up wearing green, that too was adopted. It should be noted that St. Patrick's original color was blue.
In honor of St. Patrick and his symbol is a clover and clovers are green and if you don't you get pinched unless your birthday is that day. Also because St. Patrick's day kiss the day of luck and green is a lucky color.

The reason the color green is associated with St. Patrick's Day is the origin of the holiday is Ireland. Ireland is a very green place henceforth the green.

Green is the color of Ireland (often called "The Emerald Isle"), the color of shamrocks, the official "Irish" color, as it were.

History of Ireland
Saint Patrick's Day
Word and Phrase Origins

What is the origin of the term 'Luck of the Irish'?

  • It is an ironic phrase. The Irish have been, and are a spectacularly unlucky race. The "luck of the Irish" is BAD luck, as any reading of Irish history will document. When I did my Master's thesis on Irish references in the American language, I found the original and proper use of this irony goes clear back to the Old Country and migrated to America early on. Nowadays many speakers and writers -- even the supposedly erudite ones -- misuse the phrase to imply GOOD luck. Let these misinformed (and misinforming) folks eat only potatoes for a few decades -- if any potatoes can grow in their fields.
  • Some trace the origin of the phrase to the US where, during the exploration for gold in the West, there were a high number of Irish people who got lucky, and found their "pot o' gold" in the gold fields of California, or were equally prosperous in silver mining. Luck of the Irish does owe its origin to the U.S.A.. When they arrived, they were very disliked, treated badly, despised and hated. When the Irish had any kind of success most Americans at the time didn't think the Irish were capable such successes, so they called it luck. Hence the term "Luck of the Irish".
  • As far as I know, the term comes from the legend of the 'Little People' of the land, or the leprechauns. Finding or catching a leprechaun (who would then give you gold) was a lucky event that could only take place in Ireland.
History of Ireland
Saint Patrick's Day
Word and Phrase Origins

What is the origin of the 'Wearing of the Green'?

"The Wearing of The Green" was written by a Dubliner, Dion Boucicault (1820-1890). After America's revolution, the Irish thought it was time for their own independence. The color greem became a symbol of sympathy for Irish independence and the British actually began executing persons found wearing anything green. See the lyrics to the son on that web site, too. I haven't been able to verify this statement as fact and I can't find a more exact time-line for the writing of the song.

The song Wearing of the Green was made because Irish people would burn the color red because they hated England so British soldiers would shoot peolple wearing the color green.

"The wearing of the green" refers to the Irish green plaid on kilts and other items of clothing. The English considered this a sign of active nationalism or separatism and, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, methods of stopping that were simple. The attitude was, "If you are wearing the green, you are siding with the troublemakers, disturbing the equilibrium of our landowners and governors, ie., you are a terrorist and shall be dealt with".

"The Wearing of the Green" is a song that follows the tune of an O'carolan air, the origins of which are unknown. The lyrics were written to relate the British practice of hanging any Irishman/woman who wore green in a patriotic manner during a certiain Irish rebellion(as to which, I don't know). Many more sets of lyrics were written later on, including "Rising of The Moon", which relates the Rebellion of 1798. The tune was even present in Civil-War America, as "The Army of the Free".

The English would execute any irishman or irishwoman who was caught wearing green, or displaying green as a banner or flag, because the color green was used as a symbol of Irish patriotism, and supporters of the rebellion used it. The time of this was probably in the late 1770's through the mid 1790's. In 1798 the Irish finally rebelled against the English because of the tyranny and opression they faced every day by the hands of the English. .

Saint Patrick's Day

How did Saint Patrick's Day originate?

  • St. Patrick's day was first celebrated in the United States in Boston in 1762. It's not surprising that it reached our shores as there are more Americans of Irish origin than there are Irish in Ireland.
  • The man himself, St. Patrick, was born in Wales in 385 AD. His given name was Maewyn. He had an eventful life and was good at converting pagans to Christianity. He was thrown into prison several times and escaped each time from the Celtic druids to continue establishing churches and monasteries all over Ireland, a mission that took him over 30 years.
  • St. Patrick died on March 17th, 461 AD and that day has been celebrated as St. Patrick's Day ever since.
  • When we think of this holiday, we think of green and yet the color of St. Patrick is actually blue. Actually, he wasn't Irish at all. Green came into the picture and started to be associated with this celebration in the 19th century. The color green in Irish legends was the color worn by fairies and immortals and the color worn by people to encourage crops to grow. Even today, when we think of green, we think of St. Patrick.
  • Explosive hippo diarrhoea.
  • The original St.Patrick celebrations began as a religious festival. Much of what is known about St.Patrick was written in his own hand and titled' The Confession of St.Patrick 1. I, Patrick, a sinner, a most simple countryman, the least of all the faithful and most contemptible to many, had for father the deacon Calpurnius, son of the late Potitus, a priest, of the settlement [vicus] of Bannavem Taburniae; he had a small villa nearby where I was taken captive. I was at that time about sixteen years of age. St. Patrick was born between 370 and 390 C. E. in the Roman Empire in Britain. His given name Magonus Sucatus and was changed to Patricius either after his baptism or after he became a priest. Colonial New York City hosted the first official St. Patrick's Day parade in 1762, when Irish immigrants in the British colonial army marched down city streets.
History of Ireland
Saint Patrick's Day
Tattoos and Body Art
Symbolism and Symbolic Meanings

What does a four leaf clover tattoo symbolize?

According to legend of western cultures, each of the four leaf clovers represent one theme.

  • first leaf is for hope
  • second leaf is for faith
  • third leaf is for love
  • fourth leaf is for luck.
Saint Patrick's Day
Symbolism and Symbolic Meanings

Is a four leaf clover a gang symbol?

No it's not. The four leaf clover is symbolic of Luck. As it's an uncommon variation of the normal three leaf clover, finding one is considered lucky.

Saint Patrick's Day

Where was the first Saint Patrick's Day parade?

  • The first organized parade was in New York. It was Irish soldiers serving in the British army during the American Revolution.
  • In Ireland it was originally more of a religious festival, with people attending mass, doing patterns or rounds, visiting holy wells etc.
  • The first St. Patrick's Day parade took place not in Ireland, but in the United States. Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City on March 17, 1762. Along with their music, the parade helped the soldiers to reconnect with their Irish roots, as well as fellow Irishmen serving in the English army. Over the next thirty-five years, Irish patriotism among American immigrants flourished, prompting the rise of so-called "Irish Aid" societies, like the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick and the Hibernian Society.

Here are some additional historical facts with a link to an interesting article:

  • Imported to America and other countries by nostalgic Irish immigrants, the hallowed festival was launched in their newly-settled homelands to inspire unity, assert a presence, and to celebrate their cultural integration.
  • After Irish immigrants found their way to America, the Colonies celebrated St Patrick's Day for the first time in Boston, in 1737.
  • In New York City, the earliest celebration was held in 1756 at the Crown and Thistle Tavern, according to the U.S. Department of International Information programs.
  • Parades were not initially included in the activities.
  • The first St. Patrick's Day parade was born in Manhattan, on March 17, 1762, when Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City streets accompanied by the bold familiar command of highland bagpipes, ancient instruments capable of emitting a haunting shrill wail exploited by early Celtic soldiers to intimidate the enemy.
Saint Patrick's Day
English to Scottish Gaelic and Irish (Gaelic)

How do you write 'Happy Saint Patrick's Day' in Irish?

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig

Saint Patrick's Day

Where is Saint Patrick's Day celebrated?

It is celebrated all over the world but it started in Ireland
St Patrick's day is celebrated all over the world but the best craic is always in Ireland.

Saint Patrick's Day
Fairies and Pixies

What is the connection between leprechauns and Saint Patrick's Day?

  • The leprechaun is an old Irish legend. He is like a spirit.
  • I don't think there is a direct connection. Leprechauns are based upon Irish luck fairies and the Celtic version of dwarves, which were small slimy gold hunting tricksters. St. Patrick was the person who supposedly drove out the pagan beliefs and imagery of ancient Ireland. It is likely to simply be Disney-ecse cuteness to have some nice creatures to prance around in the parades etc.
  • There is no connection, except that they are both Irish.
  • Leprechauns and St. Patrick's Day are connected because a leprechaun is an Irish symbol of good luck. Also Saint Patrick had good luck on his escape from the people who captured him.
  • Leprechauns have been in Ireland for millions of years.They are not synominus with any other country. St Patrick was born in Wales but came as a boy slave to Ireland around 400A.D. He escaped and came back to Ireland as a man and Christian Bishop.He converted the pagans living in Ireland to Christianity and thus became Pastron Saint of Ireland.He is buried in Downpatrick in Co. Down
Saint Patrick's Day

What is the meaning of St. Patrick's Day?

Saint Patrick's Day is now associated with everything Irish, from the colour green to shamrocks, good luck to Guinness! However the color of Saint Patrick is blue!!

However, its true meaning is as a time-honoured day for spiritual regeneration and offering prayers for missionaries worldwide.

St Patrick's day is always celebrated on the 17th March. Many believe St Patrick died on this day. The day is a religious holiday, so along with many businesses closing for the day (with the exception being restaurants and pubs), many Irish people attend mass.

In many cities and towns, all over the world, with an Irish population, St. Patrick's Day is a day to party! The people of Ireland often attend church in the morning and then get together and party in the afternoon.

AnswerThe true meaning is to honor and celebrate St. Patrick
History of Ireland
Saint Patrick's Day

What is the connection between the color green and Saint Patrick's Day?

  • Actually there's no connection between green and St. Patrick. It's just that Irish connecting green color to fairies, angels, and saints, and any other Holy things.
  • Ireland is known as "The Emerald Isle," and emerald = green, so green is the color of Ireland and thus of St. Patrick's Day.
  • Now, if we were talking the Anglican Church, rather than the Irish Catholic, orange would be the color of choice. But since St. Patrick is Catholic (... not really, but you know what I mean...) green it is.
  • A major misconception is the association of St. Patrick with the color green. The confusion arises from the phrase "the wearing of the green," which means to wear a shamrock. St. Patrick used the three-leaved plant to explain the Trinity of the Christian religion. Actually blue is the color associated with St. Patrick. "St. Patrick's blue" can be seen on ancient Irish flags.
  • Green is associated with Saint Patrick's Day because it is the color of spring, Ireland, and the shamrock. Leprechauns are also associated with this holiday, although I'm not sure why. Leprechauns of legend are actually mean little creatures, with the exception of the Lucky Charms guy. They were probably added later on because capitalists needed something cute to put on greeting cards.
Saint Patrick's Day

Is a four leaf clover a polygon?

yes. a polygon is a three or more sided figure with connected but not intersecting sides

Saint Patrick's Day

What is another name for St Patrick's day?

Saint Patrick's Day

What do you do if you find a four-leaf clover?

you scream, "hey i found a four-leaf clover!" Fold it in the phone book and wait for it to dry, then put it in your wallet. This way you will always feel lucky

History of Ireland
Saint Patrick's Day

Where did celebrating St. Patrick's Day with green beer originate?

Not in Ireland anyway. Nobody would dream of fouling good beer with green dye, and since lots of people drink Guinness, which is black, it would be pretty hard to do anyway.

AnswerThis is purely American in origin. Some person, most likely not Irish at all decided to desecrate beer in the name of St. Patrick. Real classy. Then with plenty of help from slimy news types it took off. Now it's apart of American holiday tradition. Which is of course, take something and change it into something opposite of what it use to be. And it helps when there is a excuse to drink. Any excuse to drink is the sure fire bet into American tradition. Like football and nascar. AnswerNot necessarily purely American. Several years ago in Poland, I was out with a friend who ordered a beer (a lager) plus a small glass of Curacao. He poured the Curaco into the beer, producing a slightly sweeter and GREEN beer. Quite a nice drink -- don't remember what he called. it. AnswerThat's an American tradition. You'll find that most Irish people don't like the concept of turning lesser American beers green and calling it Irish. If you want to properly celebrate St. Patrick's, find a good Irish beer you like and raise a glass. AnswerAn origin I heard of was the Irish celebrate St Paddy's day with so much fury that their stock of beer is depleted having them resort to drinking "green beer". A term to brewers meaning beer that is not ready to drink.


Sadly, this is most likely an American invention. It is another example of how many of my fellow Irish-Americans are completely clueless about their own ancestry and have turned it into a cheap and cartoonish industry of Leprechauns, Shillelaghs and Green things. Half of them are probably Scots-Irish and don't understand the difference.

Saint Patrick's Day

Where does 'Kiss me I'm Irish' come from?

It sounds like an American creation rather than Irish.

Saint Patrick's Day

What happens on St Patrick's day?

How to celebrate St. Patrick's Day:

  • Wear green
  • Pin a shamrock to your hat
  • Speak with a brogue-1
  • Wear brogues-1
  • Drink Irish beer and spirits
  • Wish your friends and family "Top o' the morning to ye" and every so often cry out "erin-go-bragh" (Ireland forever)
  • If you're a mayor, dye your town's rivers green and paint your lane markers green.
History of Ireland
Saint Patrick's Day
Organized Crime

Why do the Irish wear the color green?

The Celts called their idea of heaven "Green Erin" a nickname eventually given to Ireland. Green is the symbolic color of St. Patrick's Day because of his ministry as the 2nd Bishop to Ireland, also known as the "Emerald Isle" due to the lush ground cover of clover over the entire country, and because of Patrick's creation of the Order of the Green martyrs-those who were missionaries to Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Briton. St. Patrick was also known for being the first to use the Irish 3 leaf clover, also called the Shamrock, or Tri-foil, as an illustration of the doctrine of the Trinity. More information: The Irish don't wear green as such. The colour is used on flags, banners, team colours etc. traditional colour - first Irish flag, represents St. Patrick etc. It seems to be more of a stereo type. In films etc

Saint Patrick's Day

What is a leprechaun's occupation?

  • They guard the gold at the end of the rainbow.
  • The name leprechaun may have derived from the Irish leath bhrogan (shoemaker), although its origins may lie in luacharma'n (Irish for pygmy). These apparently aged, diminutive men are frequently to be found in an intoxicated state, caused by home-brew poteen. However they never become so drunk that the hand which holds the hammer becomes unsteady and their shoemaker's work affected. Leprechauns have also become self-appointed guardians of ancient treasure (left by the Danes when they marauded through Ireland), burying it in crocks or pots. This may be one reason why leprechauns tend to avoid contact with humans whom they regard as foolish, flighty (and greedy?) creatures. If caught by a mortal, he will promise great wealth if allowed to go free. He carries two leather pouches. In one there is a silver shilling, a magical coin that returns to the purse each time it is paid out. In the other he carries a gold coin which he uses to try and bribe his way out of difficult situations. This coin usually turns to leaves or ashes once the leprechaun has parted with it.However, you must never take your eye off him, for he can vanish in an instant.
  • They also do a lot of cereal advertising.

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