Every March 17th, people all over the world celebrate St. Paddy’s Day. From Argentina to New Zealand, St. Patrick’s Day is a cause for revelry and mayhem. To top it off, nearly everyone claims to have a wee bit of Irish in them on March 17th. So what’s the story behind this Irish national holiday, anyway?
The History of St. Patrick’s Day
You wouldn’t know it by the way some people behave on St. Patrick’s Day, but it’s actually a religious holiday called the Feast of St. Patrick. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. The fact that he is the patron saint of Ireland is a miracle in and of itself, considering that the lad was born in Britain. At the tender age of 16, Patrick was abducted by Irish raiders, who forced him to be their slave shepherd back in Ireland for the next six years. All that time with nothing to do but look at the green fields and the blue sky gave Patrick some ideas that he later claimed came from God. God told Patrick to flee to the coast, where a ship would take him home to Britain. He went home and became a priest in England.
Yet, Ireland beckoned. Some years later, priest Patrick returned to Ireland with a goal of converting pagans to Christianity. At some point, he supposedly drove the snakes out of Ireland, but in actual fact there were never snakes in Ireland. The snakes were a metaphor for evil ones. Years passed and Patrick died on March 17 in Downpatrick. Since the Irish have always loved to tell stories, many were told of Patrick’s exploits, and eventually he was given the illustrious moniker of the patron saint of Ireland.
The Best Places on Earth to Celebrate St. Paddy’s Day
Now, that explains the St. Patrick part, but where exactly are the best places on Earth to celebrate St. Paddy’s day?
If you can possibly make it to Dublin for St. Paddy’s Day once in your life, do it. This is an experience you’ll never forget. Sure, there’s a parade, but it’s nothing that will make you want to write home about. Although almost everyone in the city turns out for it, it’s quiet compared to American standards. But go anyway, so you can say you did.
What you really have to see is the partying that happens from 12:01 a.m on March 17th, all the way through to the next morning. That’s right. Dubliners take no back seat when it comes to getting down their first pint on the morning of March 17th. The pubs and chippers (that’s fast food places to you) are just about all that’s open on this national holiday.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
In Buenos Aires, you don’t have to pretend to be Irish to participate in the massive party in the main street, Reconquista. When you pack in 50,000 drunk partiers and you’re the only one who speaks English, it’s bound to be exciting.
Montserrat, British Caribbean
With a nickname like the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean, you’d better bet there’s a huge celebration on St. Patrick’s Day. The tiny island was founded by Irish refugees and on March 17th, and the entire island takes a day off from work. What else happens in Montserrat on this day is pretty obvious. We’ll leave it to your imagination.
Naturally, the military had to get involved in the St. Paddy’s day parade in Moscow, but it’s quite something to see in person. It’s basically a carnival scene, with rides and open drinking and music. The party is sanctioned by the government, which makes for an interesting juxtaposition between revelers and military personnel.
Spain is a holiday destination of choice for vacationers all over Ireland, so it makes sense that when March 17th rolls around, Barcelona is alive with the sound of bagpipes. There’s a huge contingency of Irish living abroad in Barcelona, but even if they weren’t, the love affair between the Spanish and the Irish goes way back. If you love the sun and want to have a the time of your life this St. Paddy’s day, pack your bags for Barcelona.
Here, it’s mostly the students who find an excuse to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. While there’s no official parade, and people still have to work, you might be lucky and run into a parade of private parties to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland.
What about you? Where are you planning on being for St. Paddy’s Day this year? Let us know in the comments section below!