Saint Patrick's Day (Irish: Lá Fhéile Pádraig) is a religious holiday celebrated internationally on 17 March. It commemorates Saint Patrick (c. AD 387–461), the most commonly recognised of the patron saints of Ireland, and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. It is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion (especially the Church of Ireland), the Eastern Orthodox Church and Lutheran Church. Saint Patrick's Day was made an official feast day in the early 17th century, and has gradually become a secular celebration of Irish culture in general.
The day is generally characterised by the attendance of church services, wearing of green attire (especially shamrocks), and the lifting of Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol, which is often proscribed during the rest of the season.
Saint Patrick's Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland and Labrador and in Montserrat. It is also widely celebrated by the Irish diaspora, especially in places such as the Great Britain, Canada, the United States, Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand, among others.
In the mid-1990s the Irish government began a campaign to use Saint Patrick's Day to showcase Ireland and its culture. The government set up a group called St. Patrick's Festival, with the aim to:
— Offer a national festival that ranks amongst all of the greatest celebrations in the world and promote excitement throughout Ireland via innovation, creativity, grassroots involvement, and marketing activity.
— Provide the opportunity and motivation for people of Irish descent, (and those who sometimes wish they were Irish) to attend and join in the imaginative and expressive celebrations.
— Project, internationally, an accurate image of Ireland as a creative, professional and sophisticated country with wide appeal, as we approach the new millennium.
As well as Dublin, many other cities, towns, and villages in Ireland hold their own parades and festivals, including Cork, Belfast, Derry, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick, and Waterford.
Every St. Patrick's Day every Irishman goes out to find another Irishman to make a speech to.
--- Shane Leslie
Being Irish is very much a part of who I am. I take it everywhere with me.
--- Colin Farrell
We have always found the Irish a bit odd. They refuse to be English.
--- Winston Churchill
Christ beside me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me.
--- Saint Patrick
Love is never defeated, and I could add, the history of Ireland proves it.
--- Pope John Paul II