St patrick's Day: Tradition

St. Patrick's Day 2012. Photo Credit: Scott Robinson. C.C.License

St Patrick's Day in London: Traditions
The cultural meaning of celebrations...
 More Info
St Patrick's Day in London: Festivities
London's St. Patrick's Day festivities...
 More Info
St Patrick's Day in London: Irish Pubs
Irish Pubs
Drink Guiness in a traditional Irish pub...
 More Info
St Patrick's Day in London: Fancy Dress Costumes
Fancy Dress
Costumes for men and women...

 More Info


Though St. Patrick wasn't the first Christian evangelizer in Ireland – that honour belongs to Bishop Palladius – he was probably the most important person in the conversion of the nation. He's also attributed with driving the snakes out of Ireland, but it's not like that's a snake-heavy climate to begin with.

Nobody is too sure of the exact date of St. Patrick's death, but somehow it was decided that he died on March 17th, and thus a holy day was born. In Ireland, the religious side was always more important. Everybody went to church, and all businesses (pubs included!) were closed. As it fell during the season of Lent (meant to be a reflective and religious 40 days of grief), the churches were kind enough to give their flocks the opportunity to have some meat and a single pint of ale. This is, of course, positively scandalous.

Tradition Spreads and Mutates

Eventually, though, people started leaving Ireland. On St. Patrick's Day they weren't satisfied with celebrating their country's patron saint; they wanted to celebrate their country. The Irish folk who crossed the pond to America were especially into the idea, and started the tradition of parades sometime in the early 1700s. From there it wasn't long until St. Patrick's Day was the hard drinking holiday we all know and love.

In 1995, Ireland changed its tune and finally allowed pubs and restaurants to stay open. Additionally, they started a big St. Patrick's Day festival in hopes of getting those big tourist bucks. It remains a strong holiday in America, where they took the traditional colour of green a bit far to the point of colouring their St. Patrick's Day beer green.

- Kevin Garnett