St. Patrick’s Day began as a Christian feast day in early 17th-century Ireland and has morphed into an unlikely international phenomenon. Now every year on March 17, the Irish people and their fans celebrate the holiday across the world with parades, dancing, beer, corned beef & cabbage, and all green everything. Read on for a brief history, fun facts, traditions & tips of our favorite holiday!

St. Patrick’s Day began as a Christian feast day in early 17th-century Ireland and has morphed into an unlikely international phenomenon.

Now every year on March 17, the Irish people and their fans celebrate the holiday across the world with parades, dancing, beer, corned beef & cabbage, and all green everything. Read on for a brief history, fun facts, traditions & tips of our favorite holiday!

 

Detail of St Patrick with a shamrock in a stained glass window at the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows at Navy Pier in Chicago. (Thad Zajdowicz / Flickr)

 

THE MAN BEHIND IT ALL

Much is mysterious about the namesake Saint Patrick, but we do know he came to Ireland as a young Roman slave in the early 5th century and (when freed) became a charismatic, successful priest who converted many Irish Druids to Christianity, then was named Patron Saint of Ireland. He died on March 17, 461, after which Patrick’s Day was created in his honor to celebrate the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. Since it was designated a ‘feast day’, Lenten restrictions were lifted, meaning revelers could eat meat and drink alcohol for the one day, creating a joyful, convivial atmosphere. If we had to guess, this was probably where the reputation for St. Paddy’s Day being a fun party holiday started.

A FEW FUN FACTS

Patrick’s color is actually blue, not green. ‘St. Patrick’s blue’ is a color seen on many ancient Irish flags, and was worn by the Irish Citizen’s Army. However, this fact got lost over the years, and the vibrant ‘Emerald Isle’ green Ireland is known for sort of took over the day.

Patrick never banished snakes from Ireland. One of the most interesting myths about the saint that persists to this day is this tall tale about serpents. Scientists say that he couldn’t have banished the snakes, because snakes never existed in Ireland in the first place. Instead, the scaly reptiles were likely a metaphor for evil.

The very first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in New York City in 1762. Nearly 15 years before America was a country, Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through the city on March 17.

 

“St. Patrick’s Day in America” by Thomas Kelly depicting the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade at Union Square with a bust of Daniel O’Connell being carried. The New York City St. Patrick’s Day is the oldest in America. (New York Public Library / Library of Congress)

 

PATRICK’S DAY TRADITIONS

Irish music and dancing. This is the one time a year to really blast the feisty Irish folk that gets you going! From the Celts on, Irish have always been known for their music prowess. Whether the Chieftains, the Clancy Brothers, the Pogues or more, listen for the trademark fiddle, uilleann pipes, tin whistle and bodhran that makes Irish music so notable.

Shamrocks. Shamrocks everywhere and on everything! Whatever you’re wearing, make sure it has a shamrock on it. The shamrock was a sacred and special plant in ancient Ireland because it symbolized the rebirth of spring. Eventually, the shamrock evolved into the national symbol of Ireland. Under British rule, defiant Irish wore the shamrock as a patriotic accessory.

The wearing of the green. According to Celtic legend, wearing the color green renders you invisible to leprechauns. This is important because if a leprechaun sees you, you WILL get pinched. Hey, don’t say you weren’t warned!

WHAT TO WEAR

Shamrock Socks. The perfect subtle yet patriotic nod to the holiday, these awesome shamrock socks are low-commitment and can easily travel from work to the pub! Best of all, we’ve got options for the whole family, with men’s, women’s, and children’s shamrock sock options!

Shamrock Sweater. This stylish sweater from Traditional Craft will do you right on St. Paddy’s Day! The crewneck is knit from a soft and warm acrylic and has a vintage sixties design with a bold, fun shamrock front and center. Cheers to that!

Shamrock Hat. You’ll look like a cool customer in this beautifully made Lansdowne baseball cap. The cotton cap is emerald green, has an embroidered shamrock, and an ‘Ireland’ print  – it doesn’t get much more Irish than that!

Leprechaun Hat. Need we say more? This tall leprechaun fun hat is guaranteed to bring the fun at any St. Paddy’s Day party you attend, no exceptions! Complete with embroidered shamrock.

Shamrock Earrings. These beautiful sterling silver and enamel earrings from Solvar are perfect for the subtler sort of St. Patrick’s Day celebrant who can’t commit to a gigantic hat. So pretty!

Shamrock Flask. St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday for letting loose and having fun; we heartily endorse this sleek pewter shamrock flask from Mullingar Pewter for all revelers of drinking age. There is literally no better occasion to use this gorgeous flask. Drink responsibly!

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