St. Patrick's Day 2021

Who Was St. Patrick? Why Do We Celebrate St. Patrick's Day?

January 14, 2021
Shamrocks for St. Patrick's Day

Saint Patrick’s Day is Wednesday, March 17! Who was Saint Patrick? Why are shamrocks a symbol of this day? Enjoy St. Patrick’s Day history, legends, and lore.

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day 2021!

This year, St. Patrick’s Day will be observed on Wednesday, March 17.

Although the holiday originally started as a Christian feast day celebrating the life of St. Patrick and the spreading of Christianity to Ireland, today, it is a day of revelry and a celebration of all things Irish. Don’t forget to wear green!

When Is St. Patrick’s Day?

St. Patrick’s Day is officially observed on March 17 each year, though celebrations may not be limited to this date. The significance of March 17 is that it’s said to be the date of St. Patrick’s death in the late 5th century (circa A.D. 493).

St. Patrick’s Day Dates

Year St. Patrick’s Day
2021 Wednesday, March 17
2022 Thursday, March 17
2023 Friday, March 17
2024 Sunday*, March 17

*In the years when St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Sunday or during Holy Week, the Almanac keeps it there and treats it as a secular holiday only. Churches may transfer this to another date, however, for the feast day. Or, cities may change their official celebration date.

Who Was St. Patrick? Was He a Real Person?

Saint Patrick is the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland. He is credited with successfully spreading Christianity throughout Ireland—hence the Christian celebration of his life and name.

Was There Really a St. Patrick?

Definitely. However, there are many legends about him that mix with the truth. Did he play a large role in spreading Christianity to Ireland? Yes, absolutely. Did he really drive all the snakes out of Ireland? Probably not, since snakes weren’t native to Ireland to begin with!

In any case, St. Patrick’s impact was significant enough to warrant our modern-day celebrations. Here’s a bit about St. Patrick himself.

A Young St. Patrick Finds God

The man who would eventually become St. Patrick was born in Britain (part of the Roman Empire at the time) as Maewyn Succat in the late 4th century. His family was Christian, but it’s said that Maewyn himself was an atheist throughout his childhood.

That would change at age 16 (around A.D. 400), when Maewyn was kidnapped from his home on the west coast of Britain by Irish pirates, who proceeded to carry him off to Ireland and force him to work as a shepherd herding sheep. After six years, he escaped his captors, walking nearly 200 miles through the Irish landscape and convincing a ship to carry him with them back to Britain. This harrowing experience certainly had an effect on Maewyn, who was convinced it was the Lord who protected him and delivered him safely home.


Saint Patrick stained glass, in Junction City, Ohio. Photo by Nheyob/Wikimedia Commons.
A stained glass recreation of St. Patrick holding a shamrock, found in Junction City, Ohio. Photo by Nheyob/Wikimedia Commons.

St. Patrick Spreads the Gospel

Upon returning home, Maewyn received his call (in a dream) to preach the Gospel—in Ireland, of all places! He spent the next 15 or so years in a monastery in Britain, preparing for his missionary work. When he became a priest, his name was changed to Patricius, and he returned to the land of his captors to begin his teachings.

Although some Christians already lived in Ireland at the time, the country was largely pagan, so spreading a foreign religion was not an easy task. Patricius traveled from village to village to share the teachings of the Lord, and was successful enough to eventually found many churches there.

Why Is the Shamrock Associated With St. Patrick’s Day?

We wear a shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day because, legend says, St. Patrick used its three leaves to explain the Holy Trinity in his teachings. (The Trinity is the Father, the Son, and the Spirit as three divine persons who are one divine being [God].) The truth of the St. Patrick legend, however, is in question, as there is no direct record that the saint actually used the shamrock as a teaching tool.

Note: The symbol of St. Patrick is a three-leaf shamrock, not a four-leaf clover. However, long before the shamrock became associated with St. Patrick’s Day, the four-leaf clover was regarded by ancient Celts as a charm against evil spirits. In the early 1900s, O. H. Benson, an Iowa school superintendent, came up with the idea of using a clover as the emblem for a newly founded agricultural club for children in his area. In 1911, the four-leaf clover was chosen as the emblem for the national club program, later named 4-H.


More St. Patrick’s Day Facts, Fun, and Folklore

  • Blue was the color originally associated with St. Patrick, but green is now favored.
  • The first St. Patrick’s Day parade in the American colonies was held in New York City on this day in 1762.
  • St. Patrick’s Day is the traditional day for planting peas, even in the snow! See our fun video on how to plant peas.
  • Cabbage seeds are often planted today, too, and old-time farmers believed that to make them grow well, you needed to plant them while wearing your nightclothes! See our Cabbage Growing Guide. No PJs required!

“On St. Patrick’s Day, the warm side of a stone turns up,
and the broad-back goose begins to lay.”

Irish Beef Stew. Photo by Sumners Graphics Inc./Getty Images
Irish Beef Stew. Photo by Sumners Graphics Inc./Getty Images.

St. Patrick’s Day Recipes

Would you like to cook something special for St. Patrick’s Day? You don’t need the luck of the Irish! Check out our list of St. Patrick’s Day recipes for corned beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread, and more ideas beyond green milk and beer!

Joke of the Month

Q: Why should you never iron a four-leaf clover?
A: You don’t want to press your luck!

How do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Let us know in the comments!


Reader Comments

Leave a Comment


Did you know you should always plant your potatoes before St Patricks Day for them to flourish? Mine went in yesterday . Happy St Patricks day to everyone from Ireland

Dogs ?

Years ago I read a story about calming some dogs on a ship by st Patrick but haven't been able to find it since.has anyone else come across this story?

St.Patrick's Day b

St.Patricks Day is a very special day as we celebrate my daughter's birthday! We definately have the luck of the Irish in our household!

St. Patrick's day will continue in our lifetime

The World mark the day of 17th March was the day for us to remember the Legend of St. PATRICK'S day, we will continue to pray for the rest of the world to keep us safe, green and healthy always, let us celebrate the greens moment with delicious healthy foods cooking by the chef's recommended recipes for this event.

Mistaken information

Yes, you stated in your article that St. Patrick "was successful enough to eventually bring an organized church—the Church of Ireland—into existence." The Church Ireland is autonomous province of the Anglican Church, a Protestant church founded in 1871, well after the life of St. Patrick who died in 461! St. Patrick was a follower of the "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church", the Catholic Church. St. Patrick was made a Bishop by Pope Celestine in the year 432 and, together with a small band of followers, traveled to Ireland to begin spreading Christianity. Just wanted to set the record straight on that.
Sláinte chugat!

St. Patrick

The Editors's picture

Thank you, Jon, for your feedback. We have revised that sentence, finding many conflicting sources about his life and work.

St. Patrick's Day

Greetings Everyone!

I am South African and was born on St. Patrick's Day. As a result I have always had a deep fondness for the Emerald Isle and its gentle folk. On this birthday of 2019 I have a beautiful stunning 'photo of a Green Grasshopper on a bright pink Hibiscus Flower.

Also I have come across and purchased "Summer with the Leprechauns", which confirms my belief in their reality!

The book is Green like the Grasshopper.

Life is very magical and beautiful. Because I have cleared from my psyche, ALL that is not of the highest and noblest within.

In divine friendship
Lady Shamla Rose

St Patrick Day and the snakes

Although there were no snakes in Ireland, the snakes that are probably referred to, are those of a spiritual nature, let's say. These snakes are called Nagas, which supply water to trees, and make the rivers and streams flow. If you harm a tree while one of these Nagas are in the tree you will be harmed, in the form of a skin problems or even cancer, among other things. I know this from my travels to Asia and studying things like Buddhism, Taoism, etc and learning the true interaction between man and nature. Christians have really lost a lot of knowledge of how to be virtuous and what it takes to go to heaven.

The only way to heaven

How to get to heaven, explained by Jesus to Nicodemus . Can be found in the book of John, chapter 3 of the BIBLE.

St Patrick Day and the snakes

Ya going to Heaven as stated in the Bible, makes it sound so easy; I wish it were. There are explanations that are not found there, one needs to know in order to make it there. And it requires a great deal of effort.

St Patrick Day article


How to get to heaven

The key to getting to heaven wherever that is can be found in the Sermon on the Mound. Love they neighbor. If everyone would heed these words, the earth would b e a utopia or a heaven on earth.

How to go to heaven

See The Book of John Chapter 3, of the BIBLE. "ye must be born again", explained by Jesus.

Happy Snake Saturday

Chambers Book of Days says that a Mr James Cleland did an experiment to see if indeed the soil/climate of Ireland was "naturally destructive to the serpent tribe" and brought snakes to Ireland. Those who found them thought they were a weird type of eel until a naturalist confirmed they were reptiles. There was a reward offered to kill upon finding any snakes. So it was humans, not the land itself, that were "naturally destructive to the serpent tribe" in Ireland.

Food for this year to celebrate the day

I have made a wonderful Guinness Chocolate Cake and today I will do up my Red Beer Irish Soda Bread and then tomorrow it will be baked cabbage with roasted corned beef brisket in red beer also - I grew up in upstate NY where it was always snowy and cold and we always did boiled dinner - as an adult living in the pacific NW now, I have adapted my recipes to this new baked style ---I love it. Thank you Almanac for continued education and shared recipes on this subject and so many more.

recipes from Namcy Horn

Can Nancy please forward her reipes for the baked cabbage and Guiness chocolate cake!

First St. Patrick’s Day parade in the United States in 1762?

Since the United States did not exist until 1776, the first Saint Patrick's Day Parade in the United States could not have occurred in 1762. It would be more accurate to state that the first Saint Patrick's Day Parade in the colonies, or in North America, occurred in 1762.


The Editors's picture

Thank you for your feedback! You are certainly correct, and we have revised the article accordingly.

you're a nerd...

you're a nerd...

Interesting! Happy St.

Interesting! Happy St. Patrick's Day to everyone!

Merciful Heavens!...Veg

Merciful Heavens!...Veg Recipe! Are You Irish?! Nice Blessing..Standard for many occasions...But No Meat!...

Hello, I suggest you opt for

Hello, I suggest you opt for a vegetarian recipe on this St. Patrick's Day. One of the great Irishmen has said: My hearse will be followed not by mourning coaches but by herds of oxen, sheep, swine, flocks of poultry and a small traveling aquarium of live fish, all wearing white scarves in honor of the man who perished rather than eat his fellow creatures.
On the coming St. Patrick's day, here is a good blessing from a site on irish sayings : May there always be work for your hands to do, May your purse always hold a coin or two. May the sun always shine warm on your windowpane, May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain. May the hand of a friend always be near you, And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

Hahahaha good one. But

Hahahaha good one. But NO!!!!!!