Saint Patrick's Day

Saint Patrick's Day

Get ready for green lights, green hats, even green beer! Saint Patrick's Day is on 17 March. Why is Ireland's national day such a worldwide party?

Do the preparation task first. Then read the article and do the exercises.


In the 1971 film The Flight of the Doves, an Irish policeman lifts up a little English girl so that she can see the nearby parade for Saint Patrick's Day. He tells her, 'It's a great day for the Irish.' The little girl exclaims, 'I'm not Irish!', to which the policeman replies, 'You don't have to be Irish to be Irish!' Saint Patrick's Day is the national day of Ireland. Every 17 March, the day is celebrated around the globe by millions of people, Irish and not-so-Irish.

Patrick, the man

Did you know that Saint Patrick himself was not actually Irish? It is thought that he was either Scottish or Welsh, coming from a wealthy Christian family. Ancient documents suggest that, as a teenager, he was taken by Irish pirates to work as a slave in Ireland. Once in his new country, he began to talk to Irish people about God, introducing his Christian beliefs to the country. 

Patrick and the snakes

Old legends say that, years ago, Ireland had a lot of snakes and that Saint Patrick used his powers to chase them all into the sea. To this day, Ireland has many old statues of Saint Patrick, often with snakes at his feet. Apparently, this is why Ireland has no native species of snakes (though most scientists suggest that this fact could be more related to geographical reasons!).

International popularity

March 17 is a day for huge celebrations in Ireland. However, due to Ireland's history of emigration, many people around the world consider themselves to be partly Irish because of their ancestral connections. This means that Saint Patrick's Day parties take place around the world, from Boston to Tokyo, Sydney to Buenos Aires. In fact, Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated in more countries than any other national festival.

Big parades

The most famous celebrations on Saint Patrick's Day are the parades. These are carnival-like events, where people dress up and walk along the street, dancing or playing music. Often the parades include big lorries, specially decorated in green. Many of the world's major cities have enormous parades. The largest is in New York, where 150,000 people participate in the parade and millions of people watch. The second largest is in Dublin, Ireland's capital city.

More 'modest' parades 

Ireland itself is a relatively small country with few cities. However, most of its towns and villages have their own 'mini' parades. Sometimes, these simply include a few tractors and the children from the local school. The shortest known parade used to take place in the village of Dripsey, in southern Ireland. The length of the parade was just 23 metres, between the village's two pubs. However, the Dripsey parade came to an end when one of the two pubs sadly closed down!

A day for green

Another well-known aspect of Saint Patrick's Day is the colour green. Around the world, many people wear green clothes as a way of marking the day. In major cities, green lights illuminate famous global landmarks such as the Colosseum in Rome or the Christ The Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. In Chicago, thousands of people watch as special boats dye the river a bright green colour. Students at Miami University in Ohio, USA, even have a 70-year-old tradition of drinking special green 'Saint Patrick's' beer!

Wherever you're from, make sure you celebrate this 17 March by watching your local parade, drinking some Irish beer or perhaps just by wearing a silly green hat. And don't forget to wish your friends a wonderful Saint Patrick's Day, or, as they say in Ireland, 'Happy Paddy's Day!'


Worksheet91.99 KB

Language level

Average: 4.2 (26 votes)

Submitted by Noctuarn on Wed, 03/04/2024 - 17:20


Hello everyone. I`m from Ukraine and we have never celebrated St. Patrick's Day. I always wondered what this celebration is and why it is so popular in other countries. Glad I have obtained information from this article

Profile picture for user alanis paola martinez ortiz

Submitted by alanis paola m… on Mon, 18/03/2024 - 06:21


My name is Anyeline Muñoz I am from Colombia and we celebrate Saint Patrick's the 17th of March.

Hello Anyeline,

Welcome! We ask everyone to write comments in English on our website. Since I know Spanish, I translated your first comment for you. 

But from now on, please write in English. It's OK to make mistakes, this is a friendly place for anyone learning English!

Best wishes,
LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user Seamer

Submitted by Seamer on Tue, 12/03/2024 - 05:08


Enjoyed reading about this special day. It's great that people celebrate this day with so much energy and enthusiasm. We should always look for reasons to celebrate our life and stay as happy as we can. Eventually, our happiness lies in our own hands.

Profile picture for user Verveine

Submitted by Verveine on Tue, 21/03/2023 - 07:32


I live in Tokyo, Japan. I didn't know about Saint Patrick's Day well so I searched about it on the Internet to get some information and learned about the events which is related to Saint Patrick's Day in Tokyo. The parade celebrating Saint Patrick's day is held in Omotesando, Tokyo every March. Unfortunately, I have never seen the parade before, but lots of people who wear green costumes walk through Omotesando street.
In Japan, May 5th is a national holiday called "kodomo-no-hi" which means "Children's Day" on which people pray children's healthy growth and their happiness.

Submitted by jim holroyd on Fri, 10/03/2023 - 08:24


In Chicago they use an orange powder, which turns the river green. The ingredients of the powder are a closely guarded secret but it is claimed to be environmentally friendly.

Submitted by meknini on Tue, 26/07/2022 - 04:20


No. I don't think we have any Irish living amongst us even those who are partly Irish. We don't even see Sant Patrick's Day parade shown on our local news channel, I guess it's a quite obscure celebration on this part of the world.

August 31 is our national day and it doesn't have any religious connotation to it. It's to celebrate our independence from the British. And like any other celebrations, we do have parades and floats too.

Submitted by jyoti Chaudhary on Wed, 27/04/2022 - 12:45


Do people in your country celebrate Saint Patrick's Day? When is the national day of your country?
nobody celebrates this festival in my country. I'm from India and this country has 26jan national days. we all are celebrated at India gate.

Submitted by shweta.upadhyay001 on Thu, 25/03/2021 - 03:17

In my country we do not celebrate the Saint Patrick's Day and I have not seen anybody celebrating it. This is first time I came to know about it. It is indeed a beautiful celebration. In my country Independence Day is celebrated as a national day. We got freedom from British government on August 15, 1947. Our country celebrates this special day with flag hosting followed by a grand parade.

Submitted by zeperx on Tue, 23/03/2021 - 20:25

I'm living in Israel right now, and there is no st patricks day. but we do still celebrate it in bars pubs and even some restaurants. its liek a getting drunk and dress green in here, nobody actually knows whats that about, but after reading this , next time, I could tell everyone :)