Where did Saint Patrick’s Day Come from?

Saint Patrick’s Day, celebrated every year on March 17th, is a cultural and religious holiday. It honors the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick. But where did Saint Patrick originally come from, and why is Saint Patrick’s Day celebrated on March 17th?

This blog post aims to answer these questions and delve into the rich history of this widely celebrated event.

Why is Saint Patrick’s Day Celebrated on March 17th?

St Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17th because this is believed to be the day St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, passed away. This day has been observed as a religious holiday for over a thousand years.

1. Historical Significance

Saint Patrick was born in Roman Britain in the late 4th century and was kidnapped at the age of 16 and taken to Ireland as a slave. He later escaped but returned around 432 AD to convert the Irish to Christianity.

By the time of his death on March 17, 461, he had established monasteries, churches, and schools.

2. Celebration of Irish Heritage

Over time, St Patrick’s Day has evolved from a religious observance to a global celebration of Irish culture. It was emigrants, particularly to the United States, who transformed St Patrick’s Day into a largely secular holiday of revelry and celebration of things Irish.

Cities with large numbers of Irish immigrants, who often wielded political power, staged the most extensive celebrations, which included elaborate parades.

Where did Saint Patrick’s Day Come from

Symbolism of Saint Patrick’s Day

St Patrick’s Day is rich in symbolism, with many elements holding deep historical and cultural significance. Here are some key symbols associated with this day:

1. Shamrock

The shamrock, a three-leafed plant, is one of the most recognized symbols of St Patrick’s Day. According to legend, Saint Patrick used the shamrock to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) to the Irish people during his mission to convert them to Christianity.

Today, people wear shamrocks on St Patrick’s Day to honor Ireland’s patron saint and his teachings.

2. Color Green

Green is another significant symbol of St Patrick’s Day. It is associated with Ireland, often referred to as the “Emerald Isle” due to its lush green landscapes.

On St Patrick’s Day, people around the world wear green clothing and accessories, and landmarks are lit up in green, symbolizing their connection to Irish culture and heritage.

3. Leprechaun

The leprechaun, a type of fairy in Irish folklore, is also associated with St Patrick’s Day. Traditionally, leprechauns are depicted as small, mischievous beings who spend their time making shoes and hiding their gold at the end of a rainbow.

On Saint Patrick’s Day, leprechauns are often represented in decorations and costumes, adding a touch of whimsy and folklore to the celebrations.

4. Celtic Cross

The Celtic cross, a symbol of Celtic Christianity, is often associated with Saint Patrick, who is said to have combined the Christian cross with the sun cross to guide pagan worshippers.

Today, the Celtic cross is a symbol of Irish heritage and is often worn as jewelry or used in decorations for Saint Patrick’s Day.

These symbols, each with their unique history and significance, contribute to the richness of Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations, making it a deeply symbolic event that honors Ireland’s patron saint and the country’s vibrant culture and heritage.

Origins of Saint Patrick’s Day in the United States

Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations in the United States date back to the 17th century. The first recorded celebration was held on March 17, 1601, in a Spanish colony in what is now St. Augustine, Florida.

The parade and a St. Patrick’s Day celebration a year earlier were organized by the Spanish Colony’s Irish vicar Ricardo Artur. More than a century later, Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched in New York City on March 17, 1772, to honor the Irish patron saint.

Over the years, these parades have become a prominent feature of Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations. Today, cities across the U.S. celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day with parades, wearing of green attire, and public parties. The city of Chicago goes a step further by dyeing the Chicago River green.

Origins of Saint Patrick’s Day in New York

Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations in New York City date back to the 18th century. The first recorded parade was held on March 17, 1762, by Irish soldiers serving in the English military.

They marched through the city to honor the Irish patron saint. Over the years, these parades have become a prominent feature of Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations in the city.

Origins of Saint Patrick’s Day in Savannah

In Savannah, the first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in 1813. Members of the Hibernian Society, a group formed in 1812 to help needy Irish immigrants in the area. They marched privately to the Independent Presbyterian Church for the first St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

The first public procession was held in 1824. The local Hibernian Society president invited all local Irishmen to meet for mass. And a public parade was held through the streets of Savannah.

The Origins of Saint Patrick’s Day in Chicago

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade in Chicago took place on March 17, 1843. The parade was led by Grand Marshal “Smiling John” Davlin. It began on Clark Street and ended at St. Mary’s Catholic Church for mass.

The tradition continued until 1896, after which it suddenly ended for unknown reasons. In 1956, Mayor Richard J. Daley officially resurrected the Loop’s St. Patrick’s Day parade with the explicit intention of celebrating Chicago’s Irish heritage.

Saint Patrick’s Day in Canada

In Canada, Saint Patrick’s Day has been celebrated as far back as March 17, 1759, by Irish soldiers in the Montreal Garrison following the British conquest of New France.

Today, St Patrick’s Day is celebrated throughout Canada, with parades held in cities such as Montreal and Toronto. In addition to parades, many people celebrate by wearing green clothing and accessories.

Saint Patrick’s Day in the United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, Saint Patrick’s Day was first officially recognized and celebrated in the early 17th century. It is observed with religious ceremonies, parades, and cultural events.

In Northern Ireland, where Saint Patrick is the patron saint, the day is a public holiday. It is celebrated with much enthusiasm. Parades are held in cities like Belfast and Derry, and people come together to celebrate Irish culture and heritage.


Saint Patrick’s Day, a cultural and religious celebration held on March 17, has a rich history. From its origins in Ireland to its adoption and evolution in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, this day has grown into a global celebration of Irish heritage.

Whether it’s the parades in New York and Chicago, the dyeing of the river green in Savannah, or the religious observances in the UK and Canada; it offers a unique blend of history, culture, and festivity.

As we celebrate, let’s remember and honor the life of Saint Patrick. The patron saint of Ireland, and the enduring impact of Irish culture around the world. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!