Are there any celebrations of saints that come close to rivalling Saint Patrick’s Day? Is March 17 a feast day in the religious sense? Is it primarily cultural? Is it a day for all of us to be Irish and to give ourselves permission to pause from Lent and celebrate with a Guinness or a glass of Bushmills or an Irish coffee? Or to add green dye to all kinds of things?

Patrick lived from about 385 to 461 and is the most well-known saint of Ireland. March 17 celebrates the man and the arrival of Christianity to Ireland. It increasingly celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish throughout the world.

The day is celebrated in more countries than any other national festival. It includes the Irish diaspora, but also the wannabes. It can be criticized for its commercialization and for supporting stereotypes of the Irish people.

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