TODAY (Friday) is St Patrick’s Day – arguably one of the biggest parties of the year for many people and is even a public holiday in Ireland.
There will be plenty of events going on all around the World to toast the occasion – from people dressing in green, participating in parades and having the odd pint of Guinness or two.
But how much do we actually know about St Patrick’s Day and the history of it.
Here are a few things you may not have known about the day and the celebrations surrounding it.
1. St Patrick’s Day was made an official Christian feast day in the 17th century and is observed by several churches, especially the Catholic and Anglican churches.
2. The day commemorates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland and celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish in general.
3. St Patrick’s Day was already being celebrated by the Irish in the 9th and 10th centuries but it was not until later when he was widely considered the ‘Patron Saint of Ireland’.
4. St Patrick’s Day was placed on the liturgical calendar in the early 1600s and became a holy day of obligation for Roman Catholics.
5. Despite being the Patron Saint of Ireland, St Patrick was born in 385AD either Wales or Scotland (Experts can’t decide which).
6. March 17 – 461AD – is when St Patrick died which is why the day became his official feast day.
7. Historically, Lentern restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol have been lifted for St Patrick’s Day so people can make the most of the occasion.
8. It was in 1903 when St Patrick’s Day became an official public holiday in Ireland. This was thanks to the Bank Holiday (Ireland) Act 1903, an act of the United Kingdom Parliament.
9. The week of the 1903 St Patrick’s Day was declared ‘Irish Language Week’ and a procession was held on the Sunday (March 15), featuring the Mayor and members of the Waterford Corporation, the Trades Hall (various trade unions) and bands.
10. The first ever St Patrick’s Day parade is thought to have taken place in New York in the 1760s and the city still holds the biggest St Patrick’s Day parade in the World.
11. Birmingham’s St Patrick’s Day parade, which took place on Sunday (March 12) this year, is the biggest in the UK and one of the biggest in the World.
12. Every year in Chicago, the plumbers union dyes the river ‘Kelly’ green. The dye lasts for about five hours.
13. In 2010, Australia celebrated its 200th St Patrick’s celebration anniversary by turning Sydney Opera House green, projecting lights onto the structure.
14. St Patrick was said to have used the shamrock as an ‘educational tool’ to explain the Holy Trinity – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – to the Pagan Irish.
15. 5.5million pints of Guinness are downed around the World everyday – on St Patrick’s Day that is doubled to more than 11million.
And to celebrate this year’s St Patrick’s Day we have a special feature in today’s paper to give away £25 worth of Debenhams vouchers. Check out pages 25 to 27 of the e.edition here.