St. Pa­trick’s Day in Canada

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS BRIEFS -

St Day is a public hol­i­day in the Canadian prov­ince of New­found­land and Labrador on the near­est Mon­day to March 17 each year. It re­mem­bers St Pa­trick, a mis­sion­ary who con­verted many of Ire­land’s in­hab­i­tants to Chris­tian­ity in the 5th cen­tury. His feast day also cel­e­brates Ir­ish cul­ture.

St Pa­trick’s Day, which is an of­fi­cial hol­i­day in New­found­land and Labrador, cel­e­brates Ir­ish cul­ture, his­tory and tra­di­tions.St Pa­trick’s Day, which is an of­fi­cial hol­i­day in New­found­land and Labrador, cel­e­brates Ir­ish cul­ture, his­tory and tra­di­tions.

What do peo­ple do?

In some cities, no­tably Toronto and Mon­treal, large scale St Pa­trick’s Day pa­rades are held, of­ten on the Sun­day clos­est to March 17. The pa­rade in Mon­treal has been held ev­ery year since 1824. How­ever, the first recorded cel­e­bra­tion of St Pa­trick’s Day was in 1759 by Ir­ish sol­diers serv­ing with the Bri­tish army fol­low­ing their con­quest of part of New France, a French colony in North Amer­ica. In some places there are Ir­ish cul­tural events. For in­stance, the Ir­ish As­so­ci­a­tion of Man­i­toba or­ga­nizes a three-day fes­ti­val of Ir­ish cul­ture in the week of St Pa­trick’s Day.

Peo­ple who have an Ir­ish back­ground or en­joy Ir­ish cul­ture may hold Ir­ish themed par­ties and serve tra­di­tional dishes, such as Col­can­non or Ir­ish stew. Col­can­non is a dish of mashed pota­toes mixed with kale or cab­bage and Ir­ish stew is tra­di­tion­ally made with lamb and root veg­eta­bles. Tra­di­tional Ir­ish drinks in­clude stout, a dark beer, and whiskey. Other par­ties may be themed around the color green. Guests may be ex­pected to wear green clothes and only green food and drink is served.


St Pa­trick’s Day marks the feast day and an­niver­sary of the death of a Chris­tian mis­sion­ary known as Pa­trick. He 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.


The most widely-seen St Pa­trick’s Day sym­bols are the colors green, and some­times or­ange, and the sham­rock. The sham­rock is a sym­bol of Ire­land and a reg­is­tered trade­mark of the Repub­lic of Ire­land. It is the leaf of the clover plant, which grows on the ground, of­ten among grass and an Ir­ish Catholic sym­bol of the Holy Trinity. It is some­times con­fused with the four-leaf clover, which is a va­ri­ety of the three-leaf clover and is thought to bring good luck.

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