Saint Patrick is one of the patron saints of Ireland and his saint’s day is 17 March each year.
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The only other saint’s day that is also a public holiday is 26 December, Saint Stephen’s Day.
Saint Patrick was possibly named Maewyn Succat at his birth in England late in the fourth century. He was of Romano/British heritage. When he was around sixteen years old, raiders kidnapped him along with thousands of people. He was sold into slavery in Ireland and was there for around six years as a shepherd before he escaped and returned to his family.
Today, the nation celebrates Saint Patrick’s Day with festivals and parades. The festival in Dublin runs for several days and includes events like walking tours that ‘follow in Saint Patrick’s footsteps’, as well as street performances and an Irish craft beer village.
On Saint Patrick’s Day, no single specific food is favoured but the main menu choices are lamb stew, shepherds’ pie, corned beef, colcannon (a mashed potato and cabbage dish) and soda bread.
Generally, the day is for celebration and often includes a lot of drinking, particularly stout and green beer (beer that has had food colouring added for the traditional colour of Saint Patrick). Green has been the traditional colour for Saint Patrick since the seventeenth century, when it replaced blue.
Many legends exist about Patrick. One of the most common is that he drove all the snakes from Ireland. This is unlikely as Ireland probably had no snakes even before Patrick arrived there. Some believe that the mention of ‘snakes’ is actually a reference to the pagans or druids. Saint Patrick wrote two letters that copies of are still in existence and are the main source of the facts pertaining to his life.