Saint Patrick's Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick (Irish: Lá Fhéile Pádraig, "the Day of the Festival of Patrick"), 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. The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, and celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish in general.
Patrick was a 5th-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. According to tradition, Patrick returned to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity. He spent many years evangelizing in the northern half of Ireland and converted thousands. Patrick's efforts to convert, subjugate, and drive off the Pagans (specifically the Celts) were eventually turned into an allegory in which he drove "snakes" out of Ireland. (Ireland never had any snakes.)
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 foremost saint.
On St. Patrick's Day it is customary to wear shamrocks and/or green clothing or accessories (the "wearing of the green"). St. Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to Irish pagans.
Celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, céilithe (traditional Gaelic social gathering, which usually involves playing Gaelic folk music and dancing), and the wearing of green attire or shamrocks. Christians also attend church services and the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are lifted for the day, which has encouraged and propagated the holiday's tradition of alcohol consumption.
However you choose to celebrate the holiday, here are some St. Patrick's Day related items from the library to help get you into the spirit!