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St Patrick's Day in Australia

St Patrick’s Day is an annual observance that is popular in Australia on March 17. This event serves as a tribute to Ireland and one of its patron saints, St Patrick.

Is St Patrick's Day a Public Holiday?

St Patrick's Day is not a public holiday. It falls on Sunday, March 17, 2019 and most businesses follow regular Sunday opening hours in Australia.

St. Patrick's Day Hat and Lucky Coins
The legend of the leprechaun and its gold is one of the many Irish folktales shared on St Patrick's Day in Australia. Many people also wear green on the day.
The legend of the leprechaun and its gold is one of the many Irish folktales shared on St Patrick's Day in Australia. Many people also wear green on the day.
©iStockphoto.com/Stephanie Coffman

What Do People Do?

Many Australians come together on St Patrick’s Day to celebrate Irish culture and remember St Patrick’s life and achievements. Some businesses and organizations hold St Patrick’s Day breakfasts and lunches where lucky door prizes are given and Irish food and drinks are served. Many pubs, particularly Irish pubs, hold St Patrick’s Day parties in the evenings, where local bands play Irish music and green drinks are served.

St Patrick Day parades are held in cities such as Sydney and Brisbane. These parades feature people clad in traditional Irish costumes or dressed in green, as well and floats displaying the Irish flag. Some people dress as leprechauns while others wear green wigs. Many Irish associations and historical societies hold events that give people the chance to learn about the history of Irish immigration and settlement in Australia.

Public Life

St Patrick’s Day is not a public holiday in Australia but it is a popular event so many restaurants and pubs, particularly those with an Irish theme, are busy on the day. Parking and traffic may be temporarily affected by St Patrick’s Day parades, particularly along the main streets in some cities and towns.

Background

Many Australians remember the Irish settlement and culture on St Patrick’s Day. The Irish were among the first Europeans to settle in Australia. They comprised a portion of the convict settlement population in the late 1700s. More than 300,000 other Irish settlers (not convicts) migrated to Australia between 1840 and 1914. Many Irish immigrants came to Australia to escape famine in their homeland. About 30 percent of Australians are believed to have some Irish ancestry today.

One way of preserving Irish traditions and customs in Australia is celebrating St Patrick’s Day each year. St Patrick is one of Ireland’s patron saints. He died on March 17 in or around the year 493. He worked as a missionary in Ireland and it is believed that he banished “snakes” from the country although the term may have referred to druids or pagan worshippers.

Symbols

Many people wear the color green on St Patrick’s Day. They may also wear a symbol of Ireland, such as a brooch in the shape of a shamrock or a harp. Images of leprechauns or a pot of gold are seen in promotional material for St Patrick’s Day. The Irish flag and balloons in flag’s colors (green, white and orange) are also visible during events and activities on the day.

About St Patrick's Day in other countries

Read more about St Patrick's Day.

St Patrick's Day Observances

St Patrick's Day in Australia has not been observed since 2008.

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2000FriMar 17St Patrick's DayObservance 
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2002SunMar 17St Patrick's DayObservance 
2003MonMar 17St Patrick's DayObservance 
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