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St Patrick’s Day 2022: Why is it celebrated in Ireland & across the world?

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M

arch marks the month of St Patrick’s Day, when millions of people around the world celebrate all things Irish.

Held in honour of Ireland’s patron saint, St Patrick’s Day is a holiday synonymous with partying and Guinness-drinking.

Celebrations this year will return in full force after a two-year Covid break with home cities like Belfast boasting an 11-day festival.

Here’s everything you need to know about St Patrick’s Day in 2022.

PA

When is St Patrick’s Day 2022?

St Patrick’s Day is always held on March 17, which falls on a Thursday this year.

It’s not a bank holiday in the UK or a federal holiday in the US, but it is a public holiday in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Why is St Patrick’s Day celebrated in Ireland and across the world?

St Patrick’s Day is also known as the Feast of St Patrick, and marks the date of the Irish patron saint’s death.

The celebration traditionally commemorates St Patrick bringing Christianity to Ireland.

It is observed by religious branches including the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Lutheran Church, and was made an official Christian feast day early in the 17th century before becoming an official Irish public holiday in 1903.

People celebrating in central London / REUTERS

St Patrick himself was a 5th century Christian missionary and priest.

During his time in Ireland, St Patrick claimed to have “found God”. This drove him to return in later years with the intention of converting the Pagan population to Christianity.

After his traditionally held death on March 17, St Patrick became renowned as a legendary figure and Ireland’s foremost saint.

What are the St Patrick’s Day traditions?

Consumption of both food and drink has always been a big part of the day, as Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol were historically lifted so that revellers could wholeheartedly enjoy their celebrations.

Nowadays the festivities often include traditional Irish foods like soda bread, as well as quintessential Irish tipples such as whiskey and Guinness.

A view of signage is seen during the countdown to St Patrick’s Day with Guinness in New York City / Getty Images for Guinness

“Drowning the shamrock” is an age old St Patrick’s Day custom which entails placing a shamrock at the bottom of the cup before filling it and finishing the drink as a toast to either the people present, Ireland, or St Patrick himself.

It is said that St Patrick used shamrocks as a metaphor for the Christian Holy Trinity, so now not only are they a classic symbol of St Patrick’s Day but of Irish heritage more generally.

Green apparel (which also has a long association with Irish history) and wearable shamrocks are synonymous with St Patrick’s Day. Common celebrations take the form of public parades and festivals, as well as Irish traditional music sessions (céilithe).

A man balances his hat during the annual New York City St Patrick’s Day Parade on March 16, 2019 / AFP/Getty Images

Since 2010, famous landmarks worldwide have also been lit up green in honour of the day. The Sydney Opera House and the Auckland Sky Tower were the first to take part, and the trend has now spread to over 300 landmarks in 50 countries.

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