What is St. Patrick’s Day?

Have you ever wondered how St. Patrick’s Day got started? In Canada, it’s known as a day-long celebration with a party-like atmosphere, but its origin may surprise you!

St. Patrick’s Day is a busy day in Canada: pubs and restaurants brace themselves for massive crowds, the colour green is prominently on display, and many Canadians hang out with friends for most of the evening. Today, St. Patrick’s Day is more about commemorating Irish culture than its original religious focus, and it’s a day Canadians have embraced from coast to coast. Read on to find out how St. Patrick’s Day got started and how you can join in on the festivities, too!

What is St. Patrick’s Day?

  1. St. Patrick’s Day origins
  2. Is St. Patrick’s Day a recognized holiday?
  3. How do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?
  4. Food and drink options on St. Patrick’s Day
  5. Parades on St. Patrick’s Day
  6. Celebrate St. Patricks’ Day your way

St. Patrick’s Day origins

St. PatrickSt. Patrick’s Day occurs every March 17, the day Saint Patrick passed away in the year 461. St. Patrick was an Irish bishop credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland, overcoming a great deal of adversity along his journey. Today he’s known as the Patron Saint of Ireland, an honorary name given to him for his heavy influence on Irish religion. St. Patrick’s Day is a tribute to his life and a day of spiritual renewal—though the holiday would not be recognized on the scale it is today until over a thousand years after his passing.

St. Patrick’s Day began to take shape in the early 17th century following the efforts of an Irish friar named Luke Wadding, who lobbied to recognize the day. While his push to adopt St. Patrick’s Day took a while to catch on, the holiday is now celebrated on a global scale, with Canada, of course, taking part.


Is St. Patrick’s Day a recognized holiday?

Newfoundland FlagWhile St. Patrick’s Day is known across Canada, only Newfoundland and Labrador observe St. Patrick’s Day as an official holiday. If you want to get together with friends during working hours in other provinces, everyone needs to book the day off in advance. Should you wind up working the day and you’re in the food or service industries, expect a busy shift!


How do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

Friends Celebrating St. Patrick's DayWhile St. Patrick’s Day is religious in origin, Canada has adopted a unique spin on the holiday: many Canadians honour Irish culture, while others go out to pubs to enjoy the day with friends. It has become a day with a party-like atmosphere from dawn to dusk, with many party-goers wearing green to pay tribute to Irish culture. You’re bound to see plenty of shamrock hats and Irish clovers proudly worn throughout the day.

As mentioned, the original focus of the holiday was spiritual renewal, with many people visiting churches on the day. Many Catholic Canadians still participate in this traditional form, so there are multiple ways we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.


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Food and drink options on St. Patrick’s Day

Shepherd's PieMany local food businesses feature Irish food options in honour of St. Patrick’s Day, giving you an opportunity to taste traditional Irish fare in Canada. Popular choices include colcannon (mashed potatoes and a mixture of kale/cabbage), Irish stew (often made with lamb and root vegetables), and Shepherd’s Pie (which usually includes potatoes, peas, carrots, and beef). Of course, you can always tackle your own interpretations of these delicious dishes at home!

On St. Patrick’s Day, it has become a wildly popular tradition to have a green beer if you choose to drink! You can expect to see many pubs and restaurants dying their beer stock green for the day. You can achieve the same effect at home with some green food colouring, making it easy for you and your friends to celebrate in style.


Parades on St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick's Day DecorationsOne of my favourite parts of St. Patrick’s Day is the wonderful parades held in cities across Canada. Montreal and Toronto throw big events, which include floats and Irish celebrants aplenty. These family-friendly parades typically occur on the Sunday closest to March 17, so you should check online to find out when your local St. Patrick’s Day parade may be taking place. Remember to check the weather and dress warmly, if required. It’s a great idea to wear green if you’re joining in on the festivities!


Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day your way

Religious ServiceWhile many Canadians celebrate the day by visiting pubs and having a night out, that doesn’t mean it’s the only way to have fun! Attending religious ceremonies is a great option, and there’s nothing wrong with a quiet night in, either.

Regardless of how you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, we hope you have a fantastic day. Stay safe, have fun, and enjoy the day!

See also: Statutory Holidays: Canada 2019 – Your Guide to Canada Stat Holidays by Province

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John is a Toronto-based journalist from Bracebridge, Ontario. With several years of experience in the gaming industry spent delivering news with honesty and integrity, his appetite for all things technology has only grown. Outside of the gaming world, he’s got a huge passion for photography, sports, and mid-day naps. You can check him out on his Twitter channel, @Makelevi.