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St Patrick is the patron Saint of Ireland, and St. Patrick’s Day is usually celebrated on 17th March.
St. Patrick was a Christian missionary who was actually born in Roman Britain, probably during the second half of the fifth century, although his exact dates are unknown. At the age of sixteen he was captured by Irish raiders and taken to work as a slave in Ireland, where he lived for six years before escaping and returning to his family.
He then went into the church, as had his father and grandfather, eventually becoming a bishop. Later, he returned to Ireland as a missionary. Patrick had become the patron saint of Ireland by the eighth century.
Nowadays St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in every part of the world that the Irish have emigrated to. The St. Patrick's Day parade in Dublin is part of a five-day festival, and parades are held in many other Irish cities as well as in London, New York, Sydney, Birmingham, Munich and Savannah, Georgia.
Celebrations usually focus on the colour green and symbols of Irish culture and mythology, such as leprechauns and shamrocks.
Unusually, in 2008 it was decided to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on 15th March. In 2008 Easter fell particularly early, meaning that 17th March was the Monday of Holy Week. It was regarded as inappropriate to celebrate a saint’s day on such an important day in the Christian calendar, so it was moved to the preceding Saturday. The last time this happened was in 1940, and the next time it will occur will be 2160.
However since many St. Patrick's Day events had already been planned long before the decision was made, many St. Patrick’s day celebrations still took place on 17th March as normal!
About the Author: Jacqui O'Brien is the (Irish by marriage!) Editor of eParenting.