SAINT PATRICK’S DAY
Saint Patrick's Day is a cultural and religious celebration held on 17 March, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick, the foremost patron saint of Ireland.
Saint Patrick's Day was made an official Christian feast day in the early 17th century and is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion (especially the Church of Ireland), the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Lutheran Church. The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland and the heritage and culture of the Irish in general.
Celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals céilís, and the wearing of green attire or shamrocks. Christians who belong to liturgical denomination also attend church services and historically the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol were lifted for the day, which has encouraged and propagated the holiday's tradition of alcohol consumption.
Saint Patrick's Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the British Overseas Territory of Montserrat. It is also widely celebrated by the Irish diaspora around the world, especially in the United Kingdom, Canada, United States, Malta, Switzerland. Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated in more countries than any other national festival. Modern celebrations have been greatly influenced by those of the Irish diaspora, particularly those developed in North America. However, there has been a criticism of Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations for having become too commercialized and for fostering negative stereotypes of the Irish people.
CELEBRATIONS AROUND THE WORLD
In England, the British Royals traditionally present bowls of shamrock to members of the Irish Guards, a regiment in the British Army, following Queen Alexandra introducing the tradition in 1901. Since 2012 the Duchess of Cambridge has presented the bowls of shamrock to the Irish Guards. While female royals are often tasked with presenting the bowls of shamrock, male royals have also undertaken the role, such as King George VI in 1950 to mark the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Irish Guards, and in 2016 the Duke of Cambridge in place of his wife. Fresh Shamrocks are presented to the Irish Guards, regardless of where they are stationed and are flown in from Ireland.
While some St Patrick's Day celebrations could be conducted openly in Britain pre 1960s, this would change following the commencement by the IRA's bombing campaign on mainland Britain and as a consequence, this resulted in a suspicion of all things Irish and those who supported them which led to people of Irish descent wearing a sprig of shamrock on St Patrick's day in private or attending specific events. Today after many years following the Good Friday Agreement, people of Irish descent openly wear a sprig of shamrock to celebrate their Irishness.
Birmingham holds the largest St Patrick's Day parade in Britain with a city center parade over a two-mile route through the city center. The organizers describe it as the third biggest parade in the world after Dublin and New York.
London, since 2002, has had an annual St Patrick's Day parade which takes place on weekends around the 17th, usually in Trafalgar Square. In 2008 the water in the Trafalgar Square fountains was dyed green.
Liverpool has the highest proportion of residents with Irish ancestry of any English city. This has led to a long-standing celebration on St Patrick’s Day in terms of music, cultural events, and the parade.
Manchester hosts a two-week Irish festival in the weeks prior to St Patrick's Day. The festival includes an Irish Market-based at the city's town hall which flies the Irish tricolor opposite the Union Flag, a large parade as well as a large number of cultural and learning events throughout the two-week period
The first Saint Patrick's Day celebrations in Malta took place in the early 20th century by soldiers of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers who were stationed in Floriana. Celebrations were held in the Balzunetta area of the town, which contained a number of bars and was located close to the barracks. The Irish diaspora in Malta continued to celebrate the feast annually.
Today, Saint Patrick's Day is mainly celebrated in Spinola Bay and Paceville areas of St Julian's, although other celebrations still occur at Floriana and other locations. Thousands of Maltese attend the celebrations, which are more associated with drinking beer of traditional Irish culture.
The first St Patrick's Day parade took place in Russia in 1992. Since 1999, there has been a yearly ‘’Saint Patrick’s Day’’ festival in Moscow and other Russian cities. The official part of the Moscow parade is a military-style parade and is held in collaboration with the Moscow government and the Irish embassy in Moscow.
The unofficial parade is held by volunteers and resembles a carnival. In 2014, Moscow Irish Week was celebrated from 12 to 23 March, which includes St Patrick’s Day on 17 March. Over 70 events celebrating Irish culture in Moscow, St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Voronezh, and Volgograd were sponsored by the Irish Embassy, the Moscow City Government and other organizations.
In 2017, the Russian Orthodox Church added the feast day of Saint Patrick to its liturgical calendar, to be celebrated on 30 March
The Scottish town of Coatbridge, where the majority of the town's population are of Irish descent, also has a Saint Patrick's Day Festival which includes celebrations and parades in the town center.
Glasgow has a considerably large Irish population; due, for the most part, to the Irish immigration during the 19th century. This immigration was the main cause in raising the population of Glasgow by over 100,000 people. Due to this large Irish population, there are many Irish-themed pubs and Irish interest groups who hold yearly celebrations on St Patrick’s Day in Glasgow. Glasgow has held a yearly St Patrick’s Day parade and festival since 2007.
While Saint Patrick's Day in Switzerland is commonly celebrated on 17 March with festivities similar to those in neighboring central European countries, it is not unusual for Swiss students to organize celebrations in their own living spaces on St Patrick's Eve. Most popular are usually those in Zurich's Kreis 4. Traditionally, guests also contribute to beverages and dress in green.
One of the longest-running and largest St Patrick's Day parades in North America occurs each year in Montreal, whose city flag includes a shamrock in its lower-right quadrant. The yearly celebration has been organized by the United Irish Societies of Montreal since 1929. The parade has been held yearly without interruption since 1824. St Patrick's Day itself, however, has been celebrated in Montreal since as far back as 1759 by Irish soldiers in the Montreal Garrison following the British conquest of New France.
In Saint John, New Brunswick St. Patrick's Day is celebrated as a week-long celebration. Shortly after the JP Collins Celtic Festival is an Irish festival celebrating Saint John's Irish heritage. The festival is named for a young Irish doctor James Patrick Collins who worked on Partridge Island (Saint John County) quarantine station tending to sick Irish immigrants before he died there himself.
In Manitoba, the Irish Association of Manitoba runs a yearly three-day festival of music and culture based around St Patrick's Day.
In 2004, the Celtic Fest Vancouver Society organized its first yearly festival in downtown Vancouver to celebrate the Celtic Nations and their cultures. This event, which includes a parade, occurs each year during the weekend nearest St Patrick's Day.
In Quebec City, there was a parade from 1837 to 1926. The Quebec City St-Patrick Parade returned in 2010 after more than 84 years. For the occasion, a portion of the New York Police Department Pipes and Drums were present as special guests.
There has been a parade held in Toronto since at least 1863. There is a large parade in the city’s downtown on the Sunday before 17 March which attracts over 100,000 spectators
The Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team was known as the Toronto St. Patricks from 1919 to 1927 and wore green jerseys. In 1999, when the Maple Leaf's played on St Patrick's Day, they wore green St Patrick's retro uniforms.
Some groups, notably Guinness, have lobbied to make Saint Patrick's Day a national holiday.
In March 2009, the Calgary Tower changed its top exterior lights to new green CFL bulbs just in time for St Patrick's Day. Part of an environmental non-profit organization's campaign, the green represented environmental concerns. Approximately 210 lights were changed in time for Saint Patrick's Day and resembled a Leprechaun's hat. After a week, white CFLs took their place. The change was estimated to save the Calgary Tower some $12,000 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 104 tonnes.
St Patrick's Day, while not a legal holiday in the United States, is nonetheless widely recognized and observed throughout the country as a celebration of Irish and Irish-American culture. Celebrations include prominent displays of the color green, religious observances, numerous parades, and copious consumption of alcohol. The holiday has been celebrated in North America since the 18th century.