The luck of the Irish

Saint Patrick´s Day is celebrated every year on the 17th of March in various countries around the world, not only in Ireland where Saint Patrick is the patron saint. In Ireland and Northern Ireland, it is recognized as an official holiday. But why is this day so popular? Why do different nations celebrate this day? And how is Saint Patrick´s Day celebrated around the world?

Saint Patrick´s Day is extremely popular in Ireland, Great Britain, Canada, United States of America, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand where there are large communities of Irish descendants. It is also celebrated in Japan, The Caribbean and many European countries like Spain.

In the 1800s, Irish immigrants started to celebrate Saint Patrick´s Day in the US. Maybe they wanted to keep their cultural identity alive or maybe they missed home. The modern version of Saint Patrick´s Day that is celebrated now is really the US version of a European tradition, like Halloween. This modern celebration of Saint Patrick´s Day that we all know, wasn´t seen in Dublin until the 1990s.

People often wear green clothes on the day but the official colour of Saint Patrick is blue. His flag is an X-shaped red cross on a white background. It is said that the tradition of wearing green on Saint Patrick´s Day started in the 1800s as a symbol of Irish independence. Green is accepted as the national colour of Ireland. Its national symbol, the shamrock, is also green. The Irish flag is green, white and orange.

More than ten million pints of Guinness are sold on the 17th of March every year. The UK drinks twice as much Guinness as Ireland each year. Nigeria is the third largest consumer of Guinness worldwide. Guinness was originally produced in Ireland in the 18th Century and is now produced internationally, from Malaysia to Cameroon.

Although Saint Patrick´s Day is often considered a religious tradition, it has now become a modern, Americanised party celebrated around the world by people wearing green clothes and drinking the ´black stuff´. It is seen to have little to do with Saint Patrick, and more to do with Irish national pride, cultural identity and a great excuse to party like the Irish – even in Japan.

In conclusion, the modernisation of religious tradition is no reason not to have a party while publicising Guinness to non-Irish communities around the world. Like Halloween, it is a great day to have fun and sell merchandise. Maybe it is the ´luck of the Irish´ that we all continue to celebrate their patron saint regardless of our religion or nationality.


Grammar Focus: Passive


Look at the words in bold in the text. They are examples of the passive form.

eg. St. Patrick´s Day is celebrated (by people) every year