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St Patrick’s Day – Origins, Traditions and Celebrations

Ryan Marshall
Last Updated: April 18th, 2023

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St Patrick’s Day originated as a religious holiday in the country of Ireland over one thousand years ago. St Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, and the holiday celebrates his life and impact on the country and its culture.

Today, St Patrick’s Day is celebrated all over the world, and I have highlighted some of the best places to celebrate as well as the best Irish drinks to enjoy.

History of St Patrick’s Day

history of st patrick’s day

St Patrick lived during the 5th century, and he is known as the first person to bring Christianity to Ireland. Over the years, the mythology and legend surrounding St Patrick grew, and one of the most common stories is that he used a three-leaf clover to explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish people.

The origins of St Patrick’s Day as a holiday can be traced back to the Catholic Church’s Feast of St Patrick. This takes place on March 17 of every year and was first observed all the way back in the 10th century.

In the early 1800s, Irish American immigrants began celebrating St Patrick’s Day in major East Coast cities like New York, and the tradition continued to grow year after year. Today, St Patrick’s Day is celebrated all over the world, though there are certain cities that are known for their large-scale St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

2023 St Patrick’s Day Celebrations

st patrick’s day celebrations

There are some cities that are well known for throwing large-scale St Patrick’s Day celebrations and parades. I have highlighted some of the biggest celebrations that took place this year in three of the most popular cities for the holiday.

New York

The New York City St Patrick’s Day Parade has been taking place since the year 1756, and it drew an estimated 2 million people in the year 2023. The parade began at 11 AM on 5th Avenue and was considered by many to be one of the best celebrations to date.


Chicago is home to one of the most interesting and visually striking St Patrick’s Day traditions in the United States. Every year, the city dyes the downtown rivers green, and the city throws a massive parade that rivals New York’s. In 2023, the river was dyed green on March 11th, as the celebrations in Chicago kicked off early.


Philadelphia is another major city with a large Irish American population, and their 2023 St Patrick’s Day Parade took place on Sunday, March 12th. The parade was full of Irish dancers and marching bands and was considered by most locals to be a major success.

2024 St Patrick’s Day Celebrations

2024 st patrick’s day celebrations

St Patrick’s Day will take place on Sunday, March 17th in 2024, and it is likely that the same major cities that are well known for large celebrations will continue with their traditions.

There have been concerns raised about the safety of the Chicago River dyeing, and it is yet to be seen if the city plans to continue with the green dye.

What to Drink on St Patrick’s Day

what to drink on st patrick’s day

Irish pubs, bars, and restaurants all see record numbers annually on St Patrick’s Day. There are dozens of different popular drink specials that many pubs make especially for this holiday, and I have highlighted some of the most traditional and popular options.

Irish Whiskey

While there are many different drink options to choose from on St Patrick’s Day, a traditional glass or shot of Irish whiskey like Jameson is always a great choice. It is a much more refined and distinguished drink compared to other options like Jello shots or dyed green beer.

Irish Beer

Another fantastic beverage to order on St Patrick’s Day is a perfectly poured Irish beer like Guinness. This dark beer has a distinct head when poured correctly, and many Irish pubs keep plenty of Guinness on tap for the holiday.

St Patrick’s Day – Frequently Asked Questions

What is the rumor about St Patrick and the snakes in Ireland?

One of the most common rumors surrounding St Patrick is that he drove all the snakes from Ireland into the sea while on a 40-day fast. In reality, there had not been snakes on the island since the Ice Age thousands of years prior.

Where did the legend of leprechauns come from?

It is likely that the legend of leprechauns originated from Celtic folklore in Ireland. Fairies have been a part of Celtic stories since the 8th century, and the term leprechaun likely stems from the Celtic word for “small body.”

What are some traditional Irish meals to eat on St Patrick’s Day?

Irish pubs and restaurants across America sell massive amounts of traditional Irish food every year on St Patrick’s Day. Shepherd’s Pie is one of the best choices for a St Patrick’s Day meal, as it is full of starch and protein which make for a perfect pre-party meal.

St Patrick’s Day – Final Thoughts

St Patrick’s Day is one of America’s favorite holidays, and many people use it as a chance to party and celebrate their Irish heritage. St Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, and there is plenty of mythology and legend surrounding his existence.

Some of the largest cities in the United States celebrate St Patrick’s Day each year with large parades and parties, and most people choose to enjoy the holiday with a pint of Guinness or a shot of Jameson.

Feel free to leave a comment below if you know of any great St Patrick’s Day celebrations taking place in 2024, and be sure to let me know which Irish drinks are your favorites!

About The Author

Ryan Marshall

Ryan is a full time freelance writer who can most often be found on the disc golf course or local coffee shop when not behind a keyboard. He is an avid traveler and lover of all things sports and outdoors. Ryan is also a certified level one sommelier, and is endlessly curious about the world of high end beverages. Writing about wine, coffee, and other specialty beverages has given him a chance to take a deeper dive into his research, and he loves helping people find the perfect drink for their palates and preferences!

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