Saint Patrick's Day


March 17th

History and Origins

Legends about St. Patrick are very famous. He is a very important man in Ireland's history. St. Patrick is the man who brought the Catholic church to Ireland. There are dozens of legends about the magical things he did, but the most popular is about snakes. St. Patrick is supposed to have sent all the snakes in Ireland into the ocean where they all drowned. Some people say that even today there is not a single snake on the island. When he died on March 17, all people mourned for him. Every year on the date of his death, people would pray and worship to remember him.

St. Patrick's Day became more and more important in the U.S. in the late 1800s as thousands of Irish immigrants came to America and settled in the cities here.

Common Traditions

Important Vocabulary

Mourn (verb): to be very sad that something bad happened

Pinch (verb): to squeeze something between your thumb and finger; usually a little painful

Shamrocks (noun): a very small clover with three leaves; Occasionally people will see one with four leaves. When a person finds a four-leafed clover, he or she will have good luck.

Dyes (verb): to change the color of something

Memories Written by Native Speakers

When I was in first or second grade, being able to pinch someone in school without getting in trouble was very important. It was our one chance all year to do something like that. My friend Valaree used to try to trick people by hiding her green so she could pinch them more. One year everyone decided to get revenge. We saw that she had forgotten to wear green, and the entire class decided to pinch her. After the first person, she pulled back her shirt sleeve and showed that she had a big green dot on her arm in marker. The class decided that the dot didn't count because she wasn't really wearing green. We pinched her anyway; some people "forgot" that they had already pinched her and kept pinching her throughout the rest of the day. (Allison, age 24, Idaho)

Books and Movies


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Last modified on April 27, 1999.