Saint Patrick's Day is a Roman Catholic saint's day celebrated each year on March 17th. The tradition of the "saint's day" in Christian history is a very old one, but it doesn't have much relevance in today's culture, particularly in America. In fact, I can't think of one other saint's day that has any national significance in the United States aside from St. Patrick's Day. Why is this the case? And how is St. Patrick's Day celebrated here?.
Most western European countries with a long Christian history can lay claim to one or more saints of national significance. The French, for example, have St. Joan of Arc as their national saint and heroine. The Irish have always had St. Patrick as their religious national hero: he was the first evangelist of Christianity to the Irish people. The legend of St. Patrick also claims that the saint drove the snakes out of this island nation, which has been serpent-less ever since. He has long played an important role in the conception of Irish identity.
Ireland has had a troubled political and social history, particularly in its relations with England. Since the Middle Ages, Ireland and England have fought for control of the people and property on this smaller island just off the coast of the larger island of England and Scotland (the "United Kingdom"). To this day, the Irish still fight the English for complete sovereignty over their "emerald isle" (the English control the area around Belfast, called "Northern Ireland"--to date, all attempts over a peaceful, long-term compromise have failed, despite some recent positive developments). .
Through all of Ireland's troubles over time, particularly with the English and English political domination, St. Patrick has been the symbol of "Ireland for the Irish." Patrick symbolizes the fact that Ireland is a Catholic nation, as opposed to a Protestant one, as England is. When the Irish started immigrating in large numbers to the United States, they brought this reverence for St.