Saint Patrick's Day (March 17) is the Irish feast day which celebrates Saint Patrick (386-461), the patron saint of Ireland. It is a legal holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, the overseas territory of Montserrat and the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is celebrated worldwide by the Irish and those of Irish descent. A major st patricks day parade takes place in Dublin and in most other Irish towns and villages. The largest st patricks day parade of recent years has been held in Dublin, New York City, Manchester, and Savannah. Parades also take place in other places, including London, Paris, Rome, Munich, Moscow, Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore, Copenhagen and throughout the Americas.
As well as being a celebration of Irish culture, St. Patrick's Day is a Christian festival celebrated in the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Ireland and some other denominations. However, as a Christian festival, St. Patrick's Day sometimes is required to give way to a more important feast. The day always falls in the season of Lent, and it may fall in Holy Week. In church calendars, though rarely in secular ones, if St. Patrick's Day falls on a Sunday, it is moved to the following Monday. If it falls in Holy Week, it is moved to the second Monday after Easter. In Ireland it is traditional that those observing a lenten fast may break it for the duration of St. Patrick's Day.
A few words about st patricks day history of celebration. st patricks day parade in Ireland date from the late 19th century, originating in the growing sense of nationalism of the period.The first st patricks day parade was held in 1996, and was celebrated only on the day. In 1997, it became a three day event, and since 2000 has been a 4 day event. The most recent Festivals have encompassed spectacular fireworks displays (Skyfest), open-air music, street theatre and the traditional parade.
The topic of the 2004 year St. Patrick's Symposium was "Talking Irish," during which the nature of Irish identity, economic success and the future was discussed. Since 1996, there has been a greater emphasis on celebrating and projecting a fluid and inclusive notion of 'Irishness' rather than a fixed identity based around traditional religious or ethnic allegiance. Nevertheless, many Irish people still wear a bunch of shamrock on their lapels or caps on this day, while children wear tri-colour (green, white and orange) badges. Girls traditionally wore green ribbons in their hair (many still do).
The biggest celebrations in Ireland outside Dublin are in Downpatrick, where Saint Patrick was buried following his death on March 17, 461. In Downpatrick in 2004, according to Down District Council, the parade, during the week-long St. Patrick's Festival, had over 2000 participants and 82 floats, bands and performers. The parade was watched by over 30,000 people.
Although celebrated by the Church of Ireland as a Christian festival, St. Patrick's Day as a celebration of Irish culture is rarely acknowledged by British loyalists in Northern Ireland, who consider it a republican festival. Belfast City Council recently agreed to give some funding to its parade for the first time. Previously the parade was privately funded.