Saint Patrick’s Day (Irish: Lá Fhéile Pádraig (The Festival of Patrick); Ulster-Scots: Saunt Petherick’s Day) is a cultural andreligious holiday celebrated on 17 March in Dublin, Ireland. The tradition came about at the instigation of the Irish Protestant organisation The Knights of St. Patrick. The inaugural parade took place on 17 March 1783. In what has been described as an act of cultural re-orientation the British established a new focus of ritual and spectacle in the figure of St. Patrick, a pre-reformation saint who appealed to both the Roman Catholic and Irish Protestant traditions in Ireland (Cullen, 1997, p.67) Guarding the inaugural procession were the mainly Protestant Volunteers who were charged with keeping order on the streets and at the service in the Protestant St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The subsequent celebrations took place in two venues: on 17 March in the ballroom (which the Lord Lieutenant Earl Temple II had renamed after St Patrick) of Dublin Castle, the ancient seat of British power in Ireland, in the old part of the city, and, on the 18 March, at the Rotunda, a site closely associated with the Volunteers leaders Lord Charlemont and the second Duke of Leinster (Dublin 1745-1922 Hospitals, Spectacle & Vice by G. A Boyd p95/6). It supposedly commemorates Saint Patrick (c. AD 387–461), the most commonly recognised of the patron saints of Ireland, and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. It is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion (especially the Church of Ireland), the Eastern Orthodox Church andLutheran Church. Saint Patrick’s Day was made an official feast day in the early seventeenth century, and has gradually become a secular celebration of Irish culture in general.
The day is generally characterised by the attendance of church services, wearing of green attire and the lifting of Lentenrestrictions on eating and drinking alcohol, which is often proscribed during the rest of the season.
Saint Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland and Labrador and in Montserrat. It is also widely celebrated by the Irish diaspora, especially in places such as Great Britain, Canada, the United States, Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand, among others. Today, St. Patrick’s Day is probably the most widely celebrated saint’s day in the world.