History Behind The Holiday: St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated annually on March 17 in honor of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. The holiday began as a religious feast during the observance of Lent but has evolved into a global holiday celebrating Irish culture with parades, music, food and yes, beer.

Although St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, he was actually born in Britain in the 5th century. At 16, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and thrown into slavery. After six years in captivity, Patrick escaped from his captors and converted to Christianity, vowing to spend the rest of his life as a missionary in Ireland. The mythology behind Patrick grew as the centuries past after his death in 461 A.D. and eventually led to his sainthood.

Stories claim that St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity. People would wear the shamrock on their clothes to signify their Irish Christian faith, which led to the custom of wearing green clothing. The tradition of St. Patrick’s day parades actually originated duringthe 1840’s during the potato famine bringing hundreds of thousands of Irish to American cities like New York City and Boston.


Fun Fact: 40lbs of green dye is used to turn the Chicago River green for St. Patrick’s Day.