Saint Patrick’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick (Irish: Lá Fhéile Pádraig, “the Day of the Festival of Patrick“), is a cultural and religious celebration held on 17 March, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick ( c. AD 385–461), the foremost patron saint of Ireland.
People all over the world celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, especially places with large Irish-American communities. Feasting on the day features traditional Irish food, including corned beef, corned cabbage, coffee, soda bread, potatoes, and shepherd’s pie. Many celebrations also hold an Irish breakfast of sausage, black and white pudding, fried eggs, and fried tomatoes. Common traditions include:
- Parades – This event is most often associated with the holiday. Cities that hold large parades include Montreal, Vancouver, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Savannah, and other cities worldwide.
- Drinking – Since many Catholics are Irish-Canadian or Irish-American, some may be required to fast from drinking during Lent. However, they are allowed to break this fast during the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. This is one cause for the day’s association with drinking heavily.
- The CN Tower will turn GREEN tonight in honour of St. Patty’s Day.
- Dying water or beer green – Chicago dies its river green for the festivities, and many bars serve green-dyed beer. The White House fountain is also dyed green.
- Other incorporations of green – In Seattle, the parade routes are painted in green. Observers are supposed to wear green or else risk being pinched. Parade floats and decorations will feature the color green.
- Religious services – Those who celebrate the holiday in a religious context may also hold a feast. Outside of this context, overindulgence tends to revolve around drinking.
- Pea planting – In the Northeast, many celebrate by planting peas. This is largely due to the color and time of year (prime pea-planting conditions.)
So this is the day to “kiss the Irish” – “wear green” – and “celebrate your Irish heritage.”
BUT, please DON’T Drink and Drive!