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The basics
Ireland: Destination Guides

How is St Patrick’s Day celebrated?

If you’re planning on studying in Ireland, it’s vitally important you know all about St Patrick’s Day. We give you a quick guide of what it’s all about, what to expect and how it’s celebrated around the world.

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When you talk about St Patrick’s Day, most people know that it’s connected with Ireland in some way. However, they may not understand why this day is celebrated or why it’s celebrated in places like Chicago, Tokyo, and Buenos Aires. We explain why and show you how these different places celebrate.


A bit of history

The 17th of March is the day that St. Patrick died. He was born in Roman Britain, and at the age of 16, he was kidnapped and taken to Ireland as a slave, although he later escaped. Years later he returned to Ireland as a missionary, where he converted people to the Catholic church. On his death (around the year 461), he became the Patron Saint of Ireland. The day of his death became a Catholic religious celebration in the country. 


Originally it was a day of going to church, eating and drinking, but it didn't become a national or international celebration until the 1700s.  Historical record show that the first parade took place in 1600 in what became the USA and not in Ireland. 


Irish settlers who moved to the American colonies took their Irish tradition of celebrating St Patrick’s day with them. As more Irish immigrants moved to the USA in the mid-19th century, the celebrations continued to spread across the country. It wasn’t only to the USA that Irish settlers went, and so St Patrick’s day became more well-known around the globe. 


Be sure to read more about Irish traditions and culture before if you're thinking about studying in the country. To help you find the right course for you, try our course matcher tool. You can also find institutions in Ireland and answers to questions you might have about studying in Ireland

cartoon lephrechaun holding a shamrock

What happens on the day?

In Ireland, people dress in green, white, and orange, the colours of the Irish flag. You will see some people dressed as leprechauns (a folk figure) and lots of shamrocks. This is a clover of three leaves that are found in Ireland. 

A lot of celebrations take place on the day. There's food (traditionally cabbage, bacon, beef, stew), drink (a lot of it alcoholic), street parties, parades, and concerts too. It’s just one big celebration. 

The same happens all over the world.

Belfast, Ireland

Street parade Belfast


Chicago, US

Chicago river dyed green

The river is coloured green for St Patrick’s day.


Nagoya, Japan

Street parade in Nagoya Japan


Buenos Aires, Argentina

Someone wearing bright pink and green hat face painting a woman in a parade


Cabarete, Dominican Republic

Marching band on the beach


No matter where you are in the world, you’ll be sure to come across people with connections to Ireland, but you don’t need to know anyone who’s Irish to be able to take part in the festivities of this fun, vibrant day.

Happy St Patrick’s Day everyone!


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