top of page

Traditions Around the World: St. Patrick's Day

Updated: Jul 5, 2020

Good Morning!!!

Since tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day I figured I would do a post on some of the traditions around the world for St. Patrick's Day. I will also be giving a little history on what and who Saint Patrick was.


Who is Saint Patrick?

St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was born Maewyn Succat to a Christian family in Roman Britain in the late fourth century AD. Shortly before he was 16, Patrick was captured from the villa of his father, Calpurnius,by a group of Irish raiders who took him to Ireland and forced him into slavery. Six years later he escaped home to Britain, his religious faith strengthened during his time in slavery. Believing he had been called by God to Christianize Ireland, he later returned to Ireland as a missionary of the Catholic church (adopting the name Patricius, or Patrick, which derives from the Latin for ‘father figure’). He played an important role in converting the native Irish to Christianity, travelling around the country performing baptisms and confirmations.


What does Saint Patrick's Day really celebrate?

March 17th is traditionally known as the death date of Saint Patrick. Saint Patrick is the foremost patron saint of Ireland.

Although blue was the colour traditionally associated with St. Patrick, green is now commonly connected with the day. Irish and non-Irish alike commonly participate in the “wearing of the green”—sporting an item of green clothing or a shamrock, the Irish national plant, in the lapel. Corned beef and cabbage are associated with the holiday (even though corned beef was never traditionally eaten but was adopted by Irish Americans looking for a cheaper alternative then Irish Bacon), and even beer is sometimes dyed green to celebrate the day. Although some of these practices eventually were adopted by the Irish themselves, they did so largely for the benefit of tourists.


Below I will be going through the many different traditions that different countries do. I will also be stating some dates that hold significance. They all occur on March 17th unless otherwise stated.



1903- St. Patrick's Day becomes an official public holiday. The first parade was held in Waterford.

1916- The Irish Volunteers held parades throughout Ireland.

1927- The Irish Free State government banned the selling of alcohol on St. Patrick's day, although it remained legal in Northern Ireland. The ban was not repelled until 1961.

1931- The first official state sponsored St. Patrick's Day parade was held in Dublin.



1901- Tradition started by Queen Alexandra, of presenting bowls of shamrocks to members of the Irish Guard. Fresh shamrocks are presented to the guards to this day and they are flown in from Ireland.

Birmingham holds the largest St. Patrick's Day Parade with over a 3km route. This is the third largest parade in the world after Dublin and New York.



1992- First St. Patrick's Day parade held.

Since 1999 Yearly Saint Patrick's Day festival

2014- First Moscow Irish Week held

2017- Russian Orthodox Church added the feast day of Saint Patrick to its liturgical calendar.


Bosnia & Herzegovina

Sarajevo has the largest Irish expatriate community

2015- Sarajevo Irish Festival established



2007- Glasgow had held a yearly St. Patrick's Day parade & festival held since 2007

Coatbridge- where the majority of the town's population are of Irish descent.



Swiss students may organize celebrations on St. Patrick's Eve. Guests contribute drinks and they typically wear green.



Not a national holiday but in Vilnius the Vilnia River is dyed green every year.



1992- The first parade in Tokyo organized by The Irish Network Japan.



1976- Irish Association started celebrating in Seoul, South Korea. The Parade & Festival have taken place ever since.



1925- The St. Patrick's Society of Selangor founded

They organize a yearly St. Patrick's Ball described as the biggest St. Patrick's Day celebration in Asia.



Known as the Emerald Island of the Caribbean because of its founding by Irish refugees from Saint Kitts and Nevis.



The longest running & largest St. Patrick's Day parade in North America occurs in Montreal. The Montreal City flag includes a shamrock in its lower- right quadrant. Since 1824 a parade has been held without interruption. It has been organized by the United Irish Societies of Montreal since 1929. St. Patrick's Day has been celebrated since 1759 by Irish soldiers in the Montreal Garrison following the British Conquest of New France.

In Saint John, New Brunswick, St. Patrick's Day has been celebrated as a weeklong celebration. JP Collins Celtic Festival is a festival celebrating Irish heritage. This festival is named after a young Irish doctor James Patrick Collins who worked on Partridge Island Quarantine Station tending to sick Irish immigrants before he died there himself.

The Irish Association of Manitoba runs a yearly three-day festival of music & culture based around St. Patrick's Day.

2004- The CelticFest Vancouver Society organized it's first yearly festival. It occurs every year during the weekend nearest St. Patrick's Day.

In Quebec City there was a parade from 1837-1926. The Quebec City St. Patrick Parade returned in 2010 after more then 84 years.

There has been a parade held in Toronto since at least 1863.



Saint Patrick's Battalion is honored in Mexico every year on St. Patrick's Day.



While St. Patrick's Day is not a legal holiday in the USA it has been celebrated every year since 1601.



The Irish community found her is the fifth largest in the world outside of Ireland.



The shamrock is also called seamroy by the Celts. It was a sacred plant in Ancient Ireland because it symbolized the rebirth of spring.

The color of St. Patrick's Day should have been blue: Saint Patrick himself would have to deal with pinching on his feast day. Though we've come to associate kelly green with the Irish and the holiday, the 5th-century saint's official color was "Saint Patrick's blue," a light shade of sky blue. The color green only became associated with the big day after it was linked to the Irish independence movement in the late 18th century.

According to Irish legend, Saint Patrick used the shamrock as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity when he was first introducing Christianity to Ireland.

In Irish lore, St. Patrick gets credit for driving all the snakes out of Ireland. Modern scientists suggest that the job might not have been too hard—according to the fossil record, Ireland has never been home to any snakes. Through the Ice Age, Ireland was too cold to host any reptiles, and the surrounding seas have staved off serpentine invaders ever since. Modern scholars think the "snakes" St. Patrick drove away were likely metaphorical.

Don’t be fooled by any holiday decorations showing lady leprechauns. In traditional Irish folk tales, there are no female leprechauns, only nattily attired little guys who spend their days making and mending shoes (meaning they earned that gold they're always guarding).


Éirinn go Brách

4 views0 comments
bottom of page