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St. Patrick's Day in Ireland

St Patrick's Day (Lá Fhéile Pádraig) is Ireland's national holiday. People hold parades and festivals to celebrate Irish culture on the day.

Is St. Patrick's Day a Public Holiday?

St. Patrick's Day is a public holiday in some areas (see list below), where it is a day off and schools and most businesses are closed. In other areas, St. Patrick's Day is a normal working day.

Shamrocks

The shamrock is a popular symbol that is seen on St Patrick's Day.

©iStockphoto.com/donna rae moratelli

What Do People Do?

People throughout Ireland hold parades and festivals that celebrate Irish culture. The largest parade is in Dublin. Many towns and villages also have their own parade. Local musicians often perform during the parades. Week long festivals of Irish visual and performing arts and music are held in many regions. The atmosphere is welcoming and friendly.

Public Life

Banks, post offices and many other businesses and organizations are closed in Ireland on St Patrick's Day. However, stores and pubs are generally open, although they may open later and close earlier than usual. Public transport service schedules vary depending on where one lives and intends to travel. There may be some local disruption to traffic because of the parades and large scale celebrations, particularly in Dublin. If March 17 falls on a Sunday, the public holiday is on Monday, March 18.

Background

St Patrick was born in 387 CE and grew up near the present day border between Scotland and England. He was taken to Ireland as a slave when he was 16. He fled back to Great Britain after six years before returning to Ireland as a missionary later in his life. He played an important role in converting Ireland's inhabitants to Christianity. According to legend, he drove all snakes from the island, although these "snakes" probably represent a particular group of pagans or druids.

Many Christians believe that Patrick died on March 17 in the year 461 CE or 493 CE. He is buried under Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, County Down. He was never formally canonized but many Christian churches view him as a saint. St Patrick, St Brigid of Kildare and St Columba are Ireland's patron saints.

St Patrick's Day became a public holiday in Ireland due to the Bank Holiday (Ireland) Act 1903. It is also celebrated around the world, particularly in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States

Symbols

The shamrock, the Republic of Ireland's flag, and the colors green, white and orange are St Patrick's Day symbols. The shamrock is the leaf of the clover plant and an Irish Catholic symbol of the Holy Trinity. It is also a symbol of Ireland and a registered trademark of the Republic of Ireland. The Republic of Ireland's flag is twice as wide as it is high and consists of three vertical bars colored green, white and orange.

About St. Patrick's Day in other countries

Read more about St. Patrick's Day.

St. Patrick's Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2010WedMar 17St. Patrick's DayNational holiday
2011ThuMar 17St. Patrick's DayNational holiday
2012SatMar 17St. Patrick's DayNational holiday
2012MonMar 19St. Patrick's Day observedObservance
2013SunMar 17St. Patrick's DayNational holiday
2013MonMar 18St. Patrick's Day observedObservance
2014MonMar 17St. Patrick's DayNational holiday
2015TueMar 17St. Patrick's DayNational holiday
2016ThuMar 17St. Patrick's DayNational holiday
2017FriMar 17St. Patrick's DayNational holiday
2018SatMar 17St. Patrick's DayNational holiday
2018MonMar 19St. Patrick's Day observedObservance
2019SunMar 17St. Patrick's DayNational holiday
2019MonMar 18St. Patrick's Day observedObservance
2020TueMar 17St. Patrick's DayNational holiday

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