March 17th – St. Patrick’s Day
St Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador on the nearest Monday to March 17 each year.
This event commemorates the life of St Patrick, a missionary who worked in Ireland and is said to have died on March 17 in the fifth century. He played an important role in converting the inhabitants of Ireland to Christianity. Now, his feast day is an opportunity to celebrate Irish culture.
St. Patrick was born in the year 387, probably somewhere near the present day border between Scotland and England. At the age of 16, he was captured and taken to Ireland as a slave. During this period, he became very religious and after six years he fled back to his family.
Later in his life, he returned to Ireland as a missionary. He is said to have played an important role in converting the inhabitants of Ireland to Christianity and in ridding the island of snakes. However, there is no evidence that there have been any snakes in Ireland in the past 10,000 years. The “snakes” he drove out of Ireland may represent particular groups of pagans or druids. It is believed that St Patrick died on March 17 probably in the year 461 or 493 (according to different sources). St Patrick is buried under Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, County Down, and is one of the three patron saints of Ireland. The other patron saints are St Brigid of Kildare and St Columba.
St Patrick’s Day celebrations were brought to Canada by Irish immigrants. The day is a bank holiday in Northern Ireland and a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland. In the rest of the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and New Zealand, it is celebrated, but is not an official holiday.