One of the world's most fun-filled festivals, here's how one of Ireland's patron saint became a global favourite.

You've heard about it, you've seen it on television and you've even participated in it, but you can never forget the bright green shades dancing around on the 17th of March every year. The day is usually celebrated to commemorate one of Ireland's Patron saints as well as display the richness of the Irish culture. With parades, shamrocks and alcohol galore, one can't help but wonder how did a saint's death anniversary spark celebrations and parades globally.

The saint and his story

Saint Patrick was born in the 4th century in Great Britain and was kidnapped and brought as a slave to Ireland when he was 16. Luckily he managed to escape. However, he later returned to Ireland and spread the religion of Christianity and performed miracles. Soon St. Patrick became an essential part of the Irish culture and history.

On 17th March 461 A.D. The Saint breathed his last at Downpatrick, Ireland. But the first parade held commemorating his name wasn't in Ireland but surprisingly in Florida, USA in 1601! In the 1630s St. Patrick's day was officially added as a celebration in the Catholic calendar. But the 1700s was when the actual magic took place.

The US was a popular immigration country for Irish people since the 17th Century with the first-ever celebrations held in New York City in 1762 with beliefs that the event was organised by Irish army men who served the British Army. Around 32 million Americans in the 2019 census proudly identified as Irish descendants. This festival gained pace in several nations globally and soon became an iconic celebration amongst the Irish diaspora rather than in Ireland itself!

What the stats say

Looks like Ireland hopped late onto the lucky, Irish train as they declared it a national holiday as late as 1903 and the first parade in 1931. According to data from Betway online, 149 million Americans celebrated St. Patrick's day in 2018. But in 2019, 400 monuments in fifty nations were lit in green, from Italy to Australia! Approximately 40% of Irish-born descendants lived overseas in 1890.

Organising cultural parades, with everyone dressed in tall green hats, flamboyant costumes and coats with some even dying their hair green, shamrocks displayed everywhere and pints of Guinness being chugged with an aftertaste of jolly times, this wasn't the case several years ago as alcohol was banned on St. Patrick’s Day from 1927 to 1961 in Ireland. Fortunately, since the festivity falls during the season of Lent, All alcohol restrictions are lifted off as people have fun. The US on average consume 13 million pints of Guinness during the festival

At least 500,000 tourists visit the annual St. Patrick's celebration in Dublin with a whopping cost of €74m spent for the five-day-long celebration. However, it's not only the west that is fond of Saint Patrick as several eastern nations like Japan, Singapore and India proudly display their love for the Irish culture and ultimately for Saint Patrick with carnivals and celebrations!

While the pandemic has stalled the celebrations, it doesn't stop the world from the fact that 17th March will be celebrated with glee and pride, although away from each other but at least with pints of Guinness!