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St. Patrick’s Day
In the United States and Great Britain, the Irish communities celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on 17 March.
The Irish community in the United States is very big. During the 1800’s thousands of Irish immigrants went to America. They settled in all parts of the country and took their traditions with them.
Who was St. Patrick and why is he important to the Irish?
St. Patrick is the patron of Ireland. He left several writings about his life and work in Ireland.
Patrick was born in Britain in 389 AD. His father was a landowner and a Christian. When Patrick was 16 years old he was captured and taken to Ireland. He became a slave. After six years Patrick escaped to France by ship. There he became a priest.
He returned to Ireland as a bishop in 432 AD. His missionary work was very successful. He converted most of the Irish to Christianity He was a generous and dedicated man. He introduced the Roman alphabet to Ireland.
There are legends about St. Patrick. One legend says that he banished all the serpents from Ireland. Another legend says that he used a shamrock to teach the Irish about the Trinity. Today the shamrock is still a symbol of Ireland and the Irish.
St. Patrick died in 461 and his tomb at Downpatrick is a centre of pilgrimage.
Today on 17 March there are big parades in most American cities in honour of the Irish. Marching bands dressed in green play lively Irish music. The Irish community organises parades and other colourful events.
American and British people wear green clothing on St. Patrick’s Day. Most people wear a green shamrock. Many shops and restaurants are decorated with green shamrocks in honour of the Irish.
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