What is St. Patrick’s Day, and why is it celebrated worldwide?

Crescente Prieto

Around the world, we have a lot of cultures of global impact that are commemorated through a grand annual celebration. Undoubtedly, one of the most recognized and celebrated is St. Patrick’s Day, when everyone drinks beers, dresses in green, and watches huge parades with Irish traditions. But do we know what we are celebrating on March 17? Behind all these celebrations is an ancient story that will surely surprise you. Let’s see what it is all about.

What is the origin of St. Patrick’s Day?

It seems like a joke, but the truth is that Saint Patrick is not of Irish origin, and his real name is not Patrick. It is Maewyn Succat. His story is very particular. He was born in Great Britain in 390 AD and grew up in a very Christian family of high social class. At 16, pirates kidnapped him and sold him into slavery in Ireland.

Once free, he became a priest named Patrick and later bishop. He had the difficult task of converting the Irish to Catholicism, which he did with simple language. To explain the Holy Trinity, he used as an example the shamrock, saying that each of its leaves forms one true leaf, just as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit form one true God. 

St. Patrick managed to influence many people who began to look up to him as a figure of Catholicism. The Bishop continued to evangelize in the country until March 17, 461, when he died. He was considered the patron saint of Ireland, and the day of his death was chosen to celebrate his feast day. Although ironically, the first celebration was not in Ireland but in Boston in 1737, where there were many Irish immigrants. It was not until 1903 that it began to be celebrated on the island.

Meanings of St. Patrick’s Day:

The shamrock: this leaf is the most representative symbol of the date because of what we explained above. Besides having a significant religious value, it represents good luck. People usually wear shamrocks on their hats, painted on their faces, on the doors of their houses, and anywhere you can imagine.

Leprechauns: these mischievous characters are also very important. Mythology says that the leprechauns were sent by the Druids to make life miserable for St. Patrick and all those who had changed their faith. They would not let them pray, played practical jokes on them, and damaged the temples. Finally, the monk confronted them and made them disappear with their green sacks of gold.   

Beer: this alcoholic beverage is a key element for this date. St. Patrick’s Day is a religious celebration in the middle of Lent, where some fasts and prayers restrict the consumption of alcohol. However, for this date there is an exception and you are allowed to drink as much beer as you want. According to statistics, worldwide beer consumption triples on this date.   

Why is St. Patrick’s Day green?

In the beginning, the representative color for this date was blue, but in the 17th century, it was changed to green when the Irish rebellion against the British took place in 1978. The British wore red, and the Irish wore green on that occasion. Besides, it was felt that green was more representative as it was part of the national flag and the color of the shamrock, adding to the fact that Ireland is characterized by its green landscapes. 

For this celebration, everything is green: hair color, food, alcohol, and clothing. But it does not stop there, we also see monuments, ski resorts, and green rivers. A legend says that if you wear green, you are protected from goblins and their pranks because you become invisible to them. Otherwise, you can receive mischievous pranks such as people pinching you.

What else do you do besides wearing green and drinking?

In the countries where this holiday is most celebrated, you will see large parades depicting different events in Irish history. The most important parade is in Dublin, the capital of Ireland, which features national music and dancing, as well as people in costume and huge structures. It is an occasion where thousands of people of all generations come together, all very cheerful and always wearing something green. 

Where to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Vancouver

Vancouver being multicultural has the advantage of having all kinds of celebrations, especially those more global ones like St. Patrick’s Day. This, added to the fact that there are many Irish people in Vancouver, means many options exist to celebrate this event properly. Here are some of the events, both free and paid, to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Vancouver:

Paid events:

St. Patrick’s Day Sip ‘n Paint: This is a themed workshop where you can create a St. Patrick’s Day masterpiece while enjoying a green beer. It takes place on March 17 at the Pacific Art Market.

Details and pricing are at this link.

Irish Whiskey Hooley: It’s a festival at the Irish Time Pub with live music, alcohol tastings, canapés, contests with prizes, photos and more. It will be held on March 19 from 12 to 3 pm. Click here for details.

What‘s the Craic: If you want a night of devilry, you might like this. This event at Teatro Rio will feature comedy, live music, games, and sensuality. It will take place on Thursday, March 16, and you must be at the door at 7 pm. Here are the details. 

Free events: 

St Patrick’s Day Market: If you’re looking for something to spend with the family, this option is very good. It’s an event in Richmond that will feature local vendors, children’s parties with peppermint shakes, live entertainment, games and more. 

St Paddy’s Day Rock n Roll Ripper: This is an excellent opportunity if you’re looking for something free in downtown Vancouver. Three live rock bands will be playing at the Princeton Pub. Guests are The Eleven Twelve, The Sons of Kain, and Cache Creek. 

Worldwide importance

St. Patrick’s Day is undoubtedly a very important festivity worldwide, not only because it is an entertaining event everyone shares but also because Christianity is a very present religion worldwide. It is the most popular belief, which tells us that its social impact is significant. 

The modern celebration of St. Patrick’s Day also helps us to recognize and honor our roots and cultures, which allows us to find new and creative ways to celebrate this holiday. If you have not yet celebrated this date, we invite you to research and find a place to celebrate everything you now know about the patron saint of Ireland.






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