St. Patrick's Day 2019

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

Shamrocks for St. Patrick's Day

Who was St. Patrick? Why are shamrocks a symbol of this day? Enjoy St. Patrick’s Day history, legend, and lore!

Who Was Saint Patrick? 

St. Patrick was patron saint and national apostle of Ireland who is credited with successfully bringing Christianity to Ireland.

March 17 is widely accepted as the date of St. Patrick’s death in A.D. 461.

Was there really a St. Patrick? Definitely. Did he really drive the snakes out of Ireland? Probably not, since snakes weren’t native to Ireland.

St. Patrick was born in Britain as Maewyn Succat. At age 16 (around A.D. 400), he was kidnapped from his home on the west coast and carried off to Ireland to become a slave who worked as a shepherd. After six years, he escaped; upon returning home, he received his call (in a dream) to preach the Gospel. He spent the next 15 or so years in a monastery, preparing for his missionary work. When he became a priest, his name was changed to Patricius, and eventually, Patrick. Although some Christians lived in Ireland at the time, it was Patrick who spread Christianity throughout the land and brought an organized church into existence.

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.

The Shamrock

We wear a shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day because, legend says, St. Patrick used its three leaves to explain the Holy Trinity. (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.

When is St. Patrick’s Day?

Year St. Patrick’s Day
2018 Saturday, March 17
2019 Sunday, March 17*
2020 Tuesday, March 17

*Note: On those 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 celebration date.

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!

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

Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

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!

Color

The original color associated with St. Patrick's Day is Blue, not green as commonly believed.

blue

Interesting! Thank you for sharing!

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.

parade

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!!!!!!