St Patrick’s Day – or the Feast of St Patrick to give it its full name – is nearly upon us.

It’s a day celebrated in countries across the world, but it’s particularly important to the Irish with both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland celebrating it as a public holiday. St Patrick’s Day celebrates Irish patron Saint Patrick, and the traditions of the day spread across the globe with the Irish as they immigrated through the years. Celebrations will look different this year, especially for Irish citizens as the lockdown in Northern Ireland has been extended until at least April 5. Here’s everything you need to know about this Irish holiday, from when it is, to why we celebrate it every year.

 When is St Patrick’s Day?

 St Patrick’s Day always falls on March 17.

So, this year, St Patrick’s will be on a Wednesday. This will be a bank holiday in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, but not the other countries in the UK (or the US, which traditionally sees plenty of celebrations for the day too).

Why does Ireland celebrate St Patrick?

St Patrick’s Day is held on what is thought to be the date on which St Patrick died, and it was originally also the celebration of the arrival of Christianity to the island. St Patrick was a fifth century missionary and bishop who did much of his spiritual work in Ireland, and eventually became the island’s most well-known patron saint. The story goes that Paddy was from a wealthy Romano-British family, but was kidnapped as a teen and taken to Ireland to be a slave. Patrick is said to have been a slave for six years, during which time he found God, who told Patrick to escape captivity and go to the coast, where a ship took him back to England. When he was back in his homeland, he became a priest, and eventually returned to Ireland to convert the pagans there to Christianity.

On St Patrick’s Day, Christians might go to a St Paddy’s Day church service, and, because Lenten restrictions are lifted on Saint Patrick’s Day, feasting and drinking Irish-made alcohol is tradition. Most people celebrate St Patrick’s Day with by wearing things typically associated with Ireland, like shamrocks and the colour green, by going to parades, and by generally being merry. There is usually a parade in London held on the weekend closest to March 17, however this has been replaced by virtual events this year.

 How to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in lockdown

While there can’t be parades and big gatherings this year, with the luck of the Irish – and internet connections – you can still have plenty o’fun this Paddy’s day.

In lieu of the juggernaut parade that typically draws crowds into the hundreds of thousands, the St Patrick’s Day fest has been reimagined into a six-day virtual extravaganza. Running from March 12-17 with over 100 online events – all totally free – events include a virtual walking tour of Oscar Wilde’s Dublin, comedy sets from Irish comics, talks and demonstrations on various skills and crafts, and the big finale – the Barróg Lá Fhéile Phádraig—the St. Patrick’s Hug—on the night of March 17. A collection of the best of Irish traditional players and singers come together for a fire-lit evening of music, pre-recorded in Dublin’s famous pub venue Whelan’s. Stay home, pour yourself your favourite tipple, and join in the festivities.


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