Today Is St. Patricks Day
St Patrick's Day occurs on March 17. It is a national holiday in Ireland and commemorates one of its patron saints, St Patrick. In the United Kingdom, it is celebrated in Irish pubs and in cities.
March 17 is a bank holiday in Northern Ireland. The degree to which people celebrate St Patrick's Day varies according to their religious and political affiliations. Those, who believe that Northern Ireland should remain part of the United Kingdom, do not generally celebrate the day. Those, who believe that Northern Ireland should become part of a United Ireland often celebrate St Patrick's Day. A large parade is held in Belfast but the level of public funding it receives depends on which political parties control the local council.
March 17 is just a normal day for many people in England, Scotland and Wales. They go to school or work as normal, and do not hold or attend any special events. Some may go for a drink in their local Irish pub at lunch time, after work or in the evening. However, in some towns and cities, particularly those with large Irish populations, parades and other large scale events are organized.
St Patrick is one of Ireland's patron saints. He is believed to have died on March 17 in or around the year 493. He grew up in mainland Britain, but spent time in Ireland as a young man and later as a missionary. According to popular legend, he is buried under Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, County Down, and banished all snakes from Ireland. However, it is thought that there have been no snakes in Ireland since the last ice age. The “snakes” that St Patrick banished from Ireland, may refer to pagan worshipers of snake gods.
The date of St Patrick's Day is fixed as March 17. It is occasionally be moved by the authorities of the Catholic Church. This happened in 1940, so that the celebrations would not fall on Palm Sunday, and in 2008 to avoid Holy Monday, the last Monday before Easter Sunday. These changes do not often affect non-church celebrations. In particular, the bank holiday in Northern Ireland is still held on March 17 or the Monday afterwards if March 17 falls on a Saturday or Sunday.
St Patrick's Day was originally a religious occasion to mark the life and work of St Patrick. In 1903 it became a public holiday in the whole of Ireland. Pubs were not allowed to open on March 17 until the 1970s. It is only recently that St Patrick's Day has become a secular holiday.