St Patrick's Day in Malta
St Patrick's Day
On March 17, everyone is a little Irish….
Even though Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, his name will be celebrated with parades and festivities worldwide. Irish whiskey and Irish beer – and Irish gin! – help with the celebrations and today the holiday’s popularity is global, spreading far beyond the Emerald Isle.
St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland – as the legend goes, he brought Christianity to the island, made the shamrock fashionable and banished the snakes from Ireland. The holiday has been observed as a religious holiday in Ireland for over 1500 years.
St. Patrick’s today…
Today, St. Patrick's Day is a day to recognise Irish heritage and celebrated by people of all backgrounds in many parts of the world, such as the United States, Canada, and Australia. Although these are the main overseas populations, St. Patrick's Day is also celebrated in other locations as far-flung from Ireland as Japan, Singapore, Russia as well as Malta. In Malta,
St. Patrick's Day became an official public holiday in Ireland in 1903 with the passing of the Bank Holiday (Ireland) Act 1903, which was introduced by Irish MP James O'Mara.
It was first publicly celebrated in the United States of America in Boston in 1737. Surprisingly, the first recorded St. Patrick's Day parade didn't actually take place in Ireland, when on March 17th 1762, Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City.
The global spread of the holiday was partly due to the Great Potato Famine of 1845 which forced over a million of the Irish population to emigrate.
Did you know?
Three facts about St. Patrick's Day
- Although many people wear some form of green in honour of St. Patrick's Day, green was once considered an unlucky colour in Ireland.
- In Ireland, St. Patrick's Day has traditionally been a religious occasion. Until the 1970s, many stores and pubs were closed. Laws were changed in 1995.
- Since the 1960's, the city of Chicago has been dyeing the Chicago river green in honour of St. Patrick's Day. Over 400,000 spectators watch as members of the local Plumbers Union add an orange powder (it turns green when it hits the water) into the river. It takes about 45 minutes to colour the river and the river stays green for up to 5 hours.
Why People Drink on Saint Patrick’s Day?
The St. Patrick’s Day tradition began as a feast day held in honour of St. Patrick on the anniversary of the day he died. Christians are allowed to put aside their Lenten restrictions on food and alcohol consumption on this day, which is why excessive drinking has become so permanently linked to the celebration.
Eventually, the feast day evolved into a greater celebration including not only St. Patrick, but also Irish culture, history, and traditions. Irish whiskey, such as Jameson’s, Irish beer, mostly Guinness, and other Irish drinks, such as Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin, are widely consumed as part of this celebration of the Irish way of life.
The Symbol of the Shamrock
The celebration of St. Patrick’s Day involves many symbols. On March 17, revellers worldwide will wear shamrocks on their clothing as part of the celebration.
The reason that the shamrock has become linked to St. Patrick is because, according to legend, he used the three leaves of the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish people.
In order to display their Irish-Christian pride and to honour St. Patrick, Irish people began to wear a shamrock on their clothing. Eventually, this practice evolved into wearing green clothes on the holiday.
A Constantly Evolving Tradition
Though there are many misconceptions that surround this holiday, any tradition that celebrates the proud history of a culture is worthwhile. Yes, St. Patrick’s Day may just be an excuse for some to drink excessively on a weekday, but to others, it is an opportunity to honour a Christian missionary and the culture and tradition he helped to create.
It is also the day in which the old Irish saying rings particularly true: “There are only two kinds of people in the world, the Irish and those who wish they were.”