St. Patrick’s feast day, March 17, was observed in Ireland as a religious holiday for thousands of years. Mass was attended, pubs were closed, and people reflected on the man who had brought the word of God to the people. This type of observance began to change in the 1970’s.
Then, in the mid 1990’s, it was decided by the Irish government to use the feast day as an opportunity for the rest of the world to experience the wonder of Ireland. Already a day of massive celebration in the United States and other countries, Irish officials saw this as a way to further tourism in their own country. It began as a one-day event but it has now grown to be five days of extravagant festival events, on a scale unlike any other. It could easily be called Ireland’s largest party of the year.
People of all ages and walks of life line the streets in Dublin to watch the yearly spectacular St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Over a million people are on hand to enjoy the marching bands, the colorful street performers, and the elaborate pageants from theatre companies with lavish costumes. Throughout the festival days there are many activities and events in which to participate, including comedy acts, concerts, boat races, art fairs, treasure hunts, carnivals, Irish music and dance, street arts, and theatre. The planning for the extravaganza begins a year in advance. Attending this national festival would be a treat for young and all. The official website, stpatricksday.ie, is an excellent place to view the lineup of events and make arrangements for accommodations.
Major cities in developed countries in most parts of the world celebrate Saint Patrick’s day. Understandably most countries celebrate St. Patrick’s day because an estimated 70 million people claim Irish ancestry worldwide. There are more people of Irish decent living in America than the total population of Ireland.