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St. Patrick's Day


Saint Patrick


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St. Patrick's Day is observed each year on March 17. St. Patrick's Day is not an official national holiday in Canada. It is, however, a provincial holiday in Newfoundland.

St. Patrick's Day invokes the spirit of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland who is credited with bringing Christianity to the island.

Observed as a religious occasion in Ireland, in Canada, it is often marked with festive parades and the wearing of green. The Toronto St. Patrick's Day Parade is one of the largest in North America. Since it began in 1988, the parade has grown to include 100 organizations, 32 Irish county associations, 2,000 marchers, 30 floats, 14 bands as well as an assortment of wolfhounds, leprechauns and talking shamrocks.

It is believed that Patrick was born in Kilpatrick Scotland. When Patrick was in his early teens, he was captured during a raid and taken to Ireland as a slave. There he learned to tend and herd sheep.

At this time, Druids and pagans occupied Ireland. Patrick learned the practices and language of his captors. Because of the hardships he faced, Patrick turned to God.

When Patrick was twenty, God came to him in a dream and advised him to go to the coast. Patrick escaped and sailors took him back to Britain where he was reunited with his parents. But Ireland beckoned to the young man through his dreams, so Patrick entered the priesthood, was ordained as a bishop and returned to the Emerald Isle in March 433. He traveled across the country converting the people to Christianity.

His greatest legacy was a platoon of scholar-monks, who sought to preserve the classical works of Greece and Rome. While the Romans were burning down the Great Library at Alexandria, Irish Catholics were faithfully copying much of what was being lost.

The shamrock as a symbol of St. Patrick's Day recognizes the saint's use of the clover to explain the Christian concept of the Trinity – the three leaves representing the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, with the stem representing the Godhead. It has been associated with St. Patrick’s Day and Ireland for centuries.

Legend has it that Patrick stood on a hill overlooking the sea, staff in hand and banished all snakes from the Isle forever. This probably symbolizes the end of pagan practices. Saint Patrick died on March 17, 461 at Sale, where he built the first church.





The History of St. Patrick's Day (


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