Falling on March 17 each year, the Irish have celebrated St Patrick’s Day for more than 1,000 years. Officially entering the Catholic Church calendar in the 1600s, today, the scale of revelry eclipses that of any other commemoration of a patron saint.
Born Maewyn Succat around the year of 385 AD, St Patrick’s exact birthplace is unknown. Yet it is believed he was born into a wealthy Romano-British family, and according to the Declaration he was kidnapped aged 16 by pirates and taken to Ireland as a slave. Held captive for six years, it is during this isolation period that he grew closer to spirituality and prayer. After a “voice” told him it was time to leave Ireland, he first sailed to Britain, then onto Gaul to continue religious study under Germanus, the bishop of Auxerre.
Returning to Ireland as a Christian missionary, he converted thousands of people to Christianity, where legend has it he used the three-leaf shamrock on his mission to explain the Holy Trinity. Another noteworthy story ingrained in folklore includes him banishing snakes from Ireland to help remove evil.
Leaving an established church, and an island of Christians, Patrick’s spiritual path has enamoured not only Irish nationals, but people in all corners of the globe. Not everyone knows that St Patrick is also the patron saint of Nigeria and Montserrat. A public holiday in Montserrat, the Caribbean island honours St Patrick with a 10-day festival. Outside of Ireland, other major celebrations include the "I Love Ireland" festival in Tokyo. And in the US, 150,000 people join a parade in New York, whilst in Chicago the river has traditionally been dyed green.
But, with it being a bank holiday in Ireland, the country becomes a utopia of green, with Dublin being the epicentre of the wildest celebrations that are set to last right through to the end of the weekend.
Historically called the “Feast of St Patrick”, the day usually begins with families attending church, before celebrating with a feast of bacon and cabbage. Parnell Square in Dublin, is the location for the country’s biggest parade, whilst the 13 million pints of Guinness poured on the day is an example of the unremitting drinking that happens, with many pint glasses being raised to toast St Patrick’s Day including: "Sláinte mhaith", meaning "good health" in Irish Gaelic.