The History of St. Patrick’s Day

Saint Patrick’s Day is a cultural and religious celebration held on 17 March, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461), the foremost patron saint of Ireland.

Patrick was a 5th-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. What is known about Saint Patrick comes from the Declaration, which was allegedly written by Patrick himself. It is believed that he was born in Roman Britain in the fourth century, into a wealthy Romano-British family. His father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest in the Christian church. According to the Declaration Patrick was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Gaelic Ireland when he was sixteen years old. It says that he spent a total of six years working as a shepherd and that during this time he found God. The Declaration says that God spoke to Patrick, and told him to flee to the coast, where a ship would take him home. After making his way home, Patrick went on to become a priest.

Irish Government Ministers travel abroad on official visits to various countries around the globe to celebrate St Patrick’s Day and promote Ireland. The most prominent of these is the visit of the Irish Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) with the U.S. President which happens on or around St. Patrick’s Day.

Saint Patrick’s Day was made an official Christian feast day in the early 17th century and is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Lutheran Church. The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, and celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish in general. Celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, céilís, and the wearing of green attire or shamrocks. Christians who belong to liturgical denominations also attend church services and historically the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol were lifted for the day, which has encouraged and propagated the holiday’s tradition of alcohol consumption.

Saint Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the British Overseas Territory of Montserrat. It is also widely celebrated by the Irish diaspora around the world, especially in the United Kingdom, Canada, United States, Brazil, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated in more countries than any other national festival.

According to the tale, Patrick returned to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity. The Declaration says that he spent many years in the northern half of Ireland and redesigned the religious beliefs of thousands. Patrick’s efforts against the religious leaders were eventually turned into a legend in which he drove “snakes” out of Ireland.

Tradition holds that he died on 17 March and was buried at Downpatrick. Over the following centuries, many legends grew up around Patrick and he became Ireland’s most memorable saint.

Conventionally, the Taoiseach presents the U.S. President a Waterford Crystal bowl filled with shamrocks. This ritual began when Irish Ambassador to the U.S. John Hearne sent a box of shamrocks to President Harry S. Truman in 1952. From that moment, it became an annual tradition for the Irish ambassador to present the St Patrick’s Day shamrock to an official in the U.S. President’s administration. However, it was only after the meeting between Taoiseach Albert Reynolds and President Bill Clinton in 1994 that the presenting of the shamrock ceremony became an annual event for the leaders of both countries for St Patrick’s Day.

Needless to say, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in many countries and one of the longest-running and largest St. Patrick’s Day parades occurs each year in Montreal, Canada, whose city flag includes a shamrock in lower right corner. The yearly celebration has been organised by the United Irish Societies of Montreal since 1929. The parade has been held yearly without interruption since 1824. St Patrick’s Day itself, however, has been celebrated in Montreal since as far back as 1759 by Irish soldiers in the Montreal Garrison following the British conquest of New France.


In present day, celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, Irish traditional music sessions, and wearing green clothing, accessories and/or shamrocks. There are also formal gatherings such as banquets and dances, although these were more common in the past. St Patrick’s Day parades began in North America in the 18th century, but did not spread to Ireland until the 20th century. The events have participants from all walks of life, they generally include marching bands, the military, fire brigades, cultural organizations, charitable organizations, voluntary associations, youth groups, fraternities, and so on.

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations have been criticised, particularly for their association with public drunkenness and disorderly conduct. Some argue that the festivities have become too commercialized and have become somewhat cut-rate and have strayed from their original purpose of honouring St Patrick and Irish heritage. Journalist Niall O’Dowd has criticised attempts to recast St Patrick’s Day as a celebration of multiculturalism rather than a celebration of Irishness.

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations have also been criticized for fostering offensive stereotypes of Ireland and the Irish people themselves. An very well known example is the people who partake in dressing in ‘leprechaun outfits’, which are based on derogatory 19th century caricatures of the Irish. On St. Patrick’s Day in 2014, the Ancient Order of Hibernians successfully campaigned to stop major American retailers from selling novelty merchandise that promoted negative Irish stereotypes. This year consider your celebrations and the way you can honor Ireland and Ireland’s beloved Saint Patrick.

Superstitions Around the World

We have rounded up 13 superstitions as we continue on our 13 days of Halloween!

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Don’t Stick Chopsticks Straight Up
In Japan, never rest them by sticking them straight up in your food. It looks like the number 4 spelled out, and in Japanese culture 4 is a very unlucky number – it means death. If you go to Japan you’ll never find anything grouped or sold in 4s.

Don’t Go Home After A Funeral
In the Philippines, there’s this superstition that every time you go to a wake or a funeral you’re not supposed to go straight home. You’re supposed to do this thing called pagpag, which is basically after the wake or the funeral, you go anywhere else that isn’t your home. People usually like go to the mall, they don’t do anything, they just go in and walk out and then they go back home. Because that way you’re kinda like removing all of the bad energy and stopping the spirits from following you home. Because they believe if you go straight home you’re going to bring all that bad energy with you.

Toasting With Water
The belief that you should never make a toast with water in your glass harks back to the time of the Ancient Greeks. According to Greek mythology, the dead would always drink from the River Lethe in the depths of the Underworld, in order to forget their past, corporeal lives. As a result of this story, the Greeks would always toast to the dead with glasses filled with water to symbolize their voyage, via the river, to the Underworld.
As a consequence of this morbid story, it is considered that proposing a toast to somebody with water, is akin to wishing bad luck, and maybe even death, on him or her. Many people also believe that by toasting with water you are also wishing death upon yourself, as this liquid reflects your future watery grave.

Sitting at the Corner of a Table
According to Hungarian and Russian superstitions, and surely others as well, sitting at the corner of the table is bad luck. The unlucky diner will allegedly never get married. Some say the bad luck only hangs around for seven years, but as with most superstitions, why chance it?

match-549106_1920Never Use the Same Match on Three Cigarettes
In France it is said that lighting three cigarettes with the same match will bring bad luck. This superstition – which is popular elsewhere in the west – is thought to stem from the trenches of World War One when snipers were said to have a better hit rate when smokers took so long holding one match up. The first cigarette alerts the sniper, the second allows him time to take aim, leaving the third smoker dead on their feet. You’ve been warned.

Counting Pierogies
The Polish advice to ever to count the pierogi while they’re still boiling! Should one irresponsibly count the dumplings while they’re still in the pot, without a doubt half of them will end up stuck to the bottom of the pot- or torn letting all their yummy insides out.

Avoid the Broom!
In Italy, If you’re single and hoping to lock down your Principe Azzurro (Prince Charming) then make sure you avoid people when they’re sweeping the floor. If the broom so much as touches your feet then you’ll never get hitched.

Knocking on the Stammtisch
When greeting your German drinking buddies, instead of waving, you should knock on the table. According to legend, this is because the Stammtisch, the regulars’ table in the tavern, was traditionally made of oak. Since the devil is unable to touch oak, considered a holy tree, knocking on it proved you weren’t the devil.

alp-studio-426760-unsplashClocks Aren’t a Good Gift
You should never give someone a clock as a present – in Chinese, “clock” rhymes with the word for “termination” or “sending someone to their end”, meaning inauspicious vibes all around. Watches are not immune from this taboo, either. In 2015, UK transport minister Baroness Susan Kramer gave the Mayor of Taipei, Ko Wen-je, a watch as a gift. Ko was later quoted as saying that he would either re-gift the watch, or sell it to a scrap metal dealer. To be fair, it might be Ko’s diplomatic skills rather than the Baroness’s etiquette that needed fine-tuning – but to avoid any awkward moments, it’s best just to gift anything other than a timepiece. Still dead set on giving a friend a clock or watch? There is a way to combat this. Simply ask them to give you a dollar – so it’s technically not a gift.

Woman Can’t Eat Goat Meat
In Rwanda, local folklore advises women against eating goat meat because it allegedly causes facial hair growth, as well as stubbornness. However, some people have also offered up the theory that men created this superstition so they could have more meat to themselves.

Be Careful with Scissors
In Egypt, there’s a superstition that scissors should always be bought and never be given as a present, because they will ‘cut’ between the giver and recipient. Another thing to be aware of is if a pair of scissors are dropped, the fates will gather around the person who dropped them if they pick the scissors up themselves. The person instead should ask someone else to pick up the scissors for them. Worse, if when the scissors fall, both points stick into the floor and the scissors remain upright, then a death is said to be imminent. However a more gentle fate awaits if only one point sticks into the floor — a wedding.

Ventilador_Electrico_PisoDon’t Sleep with a Fan On
“Fan death” is a widespread fear among people in South Korea, As a result, many South Koreans will never sleep in a closed room with a fan on. It is commonly believed that prolonged exposure to fans causes hypothermia, loss of water in the body, and even asphyxiation.

A Lucky Penny
And finally, for one good luck superstition, in the USA; finding a penny on the ground, especially if it is heads facing up, is considered a sign of good luck. People often use the saying “find a penny, pick it up, and all day long you’ll have good luck.” It’s apparently


This post is apart of our 13 days of Halloween series. Checkout our other spooky posts:

  1. Washington Ghost Stories
  2. Out of Place Artifacts
  3. Henry Rathbone
  4. Charon and the Journey to Hades
  5. Post-Mortem Photography
  6. All Hallows Eve Divination Games
  7. Saved By The Bell and other Idioms
  8. Halloween Coins
  9. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
  10. Coins Connecting You to the Spirit World
  11. Ancient Egyptian Alien Coins
  12. Superstitions Around the World
  13. A Brief History of Halloween

The World’s Fair | A History

The World’s Fair is a large public exhibition embedded in rich cultural tradition.  Originating in Paris with the industrial revolution, these grand expositions soon spread to continental Europe and the United Kingdom before making their mark across the world.  The grandfather fair, reverently referred to as the “Great Exhibition” was Prince Albert’s proposal to model regionally manufactured products in order to induce international trade and relations, buoy tourism and propagate art and design education.  The structure and ideology of this 1851 fair offered a clear precedent for the World’s Fair and it has continued to attract millions world-wide today.  The 2015 World’s Fair is being held in Milan, Italy.

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While culture sharing has always been and remains vital, the development of the World’s Fair can be distinguished in three Eras of characteristic evolution: Industrialization, Cultural Exchange and Nation Branding.

The Industrial Era, which lasted roughly from 1800 to 1938 focused heavily on trade and boasted technological inventions and industrial design in a rapidly advancing technological world.  Modern technologies were brought together from all over the world marking momentous occasions in historical information sharing.  Expositions such as the Philadelphia 1876 Centennial Exhibition with the debut of Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone and Chicago 1893 Fair presenting the early dishwasher became landmarks of advancement, procuring a progressive image of the World’s Fair.

During the Era of Cultural Exchange, beginning with New York’s 1939 World Fair, themed “Building a Better Tomorrow”, expositions took on diverging cultural themes, anticipating a bright future.  The focus of fairs became less about specific technologies and more about intercultural communication for the exchange and growth of innovation.  As cultural recognition and societal strength became of greater importance, the Era of Nation Branding began.

Countries began to use the World’s Fair as a platform to strengthen their national images through branding and architecture.  Great pavilions were erected and stand today as representations of great nations such as Japan, Canada, Finland and Spain.  Stunning architecture and nation branding required solid financial investment and thus, several nations shied away from hosting Expositions, fearing that the cost would outweigh the benefits.  The 2000 Dutch Exposition pavilion cost an approximate €35 million, but is thought to have brought in €350 million in turn for a thriving Dutch economy.

The World’s Fair has seen much evolution over the course of two hundred years and today embodies the characteristic of all three Eras.  Each fair presents the newest technologies including art and architecture while fostering cultural networking and bolstering a reputably positive national image. One of the few lasting, globally impacting traditions of our Earth, the World’s Fair is a magnificent opportunity for individuals, communities, cultures and societies to reach out as a part of an ever-evolving humanity.