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What is St Patrick’s Day?

Happy St Patrick's DaySt Patrick’s Day is the official national day of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It is celebrated every year on 17th March to honour St Patrick.

Who was St Patrick?

St Patrick (or Saint Patrick) is the patron saint of Ireland. A patron saint is someone who is regarded as the special guardian of a country, person, group etc.

St Patrick was born in approximately AD 385 in Britain. When he was around 16 years old, he was kidnapped and taken to Ireland as a slave. After a few years as a slave, he escaped and began studying to be a priest.

St Patrick’s Day, ShamrockSt Patrick is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. It is said that he used a 3-leaved shamrock (a clover-like plant) to explain Christianity and the Holy Trinity to the Irish people. Many of his followers began to wear a shamrock as a symbol of their faith and it has since become a national emblem of Ireland.

St Patrick died on 17th March in AD 461 and this day is now celebrated as St Patrick’s Day, a cultural and religious holiday in Ireland.

guinness

How is St Patrick’s Day celebrated?

17th March is a bank holiday in Ireland so no-one goes to work or school on that day. Instead, large celebrations are held all over the country with parades, concerts, fireworks and parties.

Originally, St Patrick’s Day was solely a religious festival and it was a law that pubs and bars were not allowed to open on that day. However, in the 1970s this law was abolished and people began celebrating Irish culture and heritage on St Patrick’s Day too. Since then, drinking alcohol (especially Guinness) has become a typical and expected part of the day.

Celebrating St Patrick’s Day in London

If you are lucky enough to be in Ireland for St Patrick’s Day, you will have a fantastic time taking part in their 4-day festivals! However, don’t worry if you’re not in Ireland as there are many celebrations and festivals taking place in cities all around the world!

As St Patrick’s Day is not a bank holiday in the UK, the festivities are taking place on Sunday 16th March in London. There is a big parade taking place from Piccadilly Circus, starting at noon, with marching bands, floats and more! The parade ends in Trafalgar Square where you will find a free St Patrick’s Day Festival with traditional Irish music, dancing, food, comedy and film.

St Patrick's Day celebrationsIn the evening, head over to an Irish pub (e.g. O’Neills in Soho) and join a crazy St Patrick’s Day party! Don’t forget to wear something green and try a pint of Guinness!

There will of course be many Irish people celebrating in London and other cities around the world and they are known for their friendly and welcoming personalities. Due to this, it is a great chance for you to practise your English and find out more about the Irish culture. It is also a good opportunity to listen to and try to understand different English accents.

Have fun with English

St Patrick’s Day word jumble

Can you unscramble these words to find things associated with St Patrick’s Day?

1. arcmhokscheers
2. rpotna snita

3. snuingse
4. iirhs ecluurt
5. sadapre
6. necltieraobs
7. csriytntihai
8. erneg
9. raictkp
10. atordsinti

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