St Patrick was a 4th century bishop missionary, credited with converting the Irish from paganism to Christianity. Whilst St Patrick's Day began as a small religious festival in Ireland, the spread of Irish immigrants worldwide helped to turn it into an international day of celebration of Irish pride and culture, celebrated especially in the UK, Canada, Australia and America, with New York hosting the first St Patrick's Day parade in 1762. St Patrick's Day is now celebrated worldwide, with icons like Christ the Redeemer and the Eifel Tower lit up green in its honour, parades staged in every major city and rivers dyed green, most famously in Chicago.

St Patrick's Day on Female First

St Patrick's Day on Female First

With St Patrick's Day just around the corner, we bring you 6 great ways to celebrate and join the international party - Sláinte!

Watch or join a parade - Cities across the world will hold parades, and the UK is no different. Featuring spectacular floats, marching bands, sports clubs, street theatre and Irish dancing schools, parades are a great way to soak up the party atmosphere!

Dress up - Green is the overwhelming colour associated with St Patrick's Day, despite blue being traditionally associated with the Saint himself. The popularity of green is due Ireland's moniker 'The Emerald Isle', which led to Green being adopted as the national colour, also appearing on the Irish flag. There is also a legend that Leprechauns, faerie tricksters of Irish folklore, would pinch anyone they could see, but wearing green made one invisible to leprechauns. As a result people began pinching those not wearing green as a reminder - a tradition that continues today.

Get in the party spirit - Traditionally, St Patrick's Day was a relief from the austerity of Lent, where drinking, feasting and dancing were permitted for the day. This early association with relief and unrestraint may have fueled some of the modern revelry which has become synonymous with the day. The modern festival is clearly associated with having a good time and some famous Irish craic!

Branch out from Guinness - Guinness and St Patrick's Day go hand in hand for many, so much so that over 13 million glasses will be enjoyed around the world this St Patrick's Day. However, Guinness is not the only delicious beverage to emanate from the Emerald Isle. There are many other delicious Irish stouts available such as Beamish, Murphy's, Kilkenny and Smithwick's. Irish Whiskey is famous worldwide, and many historians credit Irish monks with the invention of whiskey. Pay homage to the monks' dedication by sampling a few distilleries' offerings, or if whiskey doesn't appeal, Ireland is also famous for its poitin, cider, gin, and Irish cream liquor.

Indulge in an Irish feast - Whilst many associate St Patrick's Day with Boiled Ham and Cabbage, this is an American tradition that began in the 19th century as homesick immigrants attempted to recreate a traditional Irish dish made with bacon. As many were poor in this period, beef brisket was widely used in place of bacon as a cheaper cut, and cabbage was a widely available spring vegetable. In Ireland, a meal of lamb or bacon is traditional, accompanied by spring vegetables and sides such as potatoes and sourdough bread and butter. Whether you prefer corned beef or bacon on St Patrick's day, Mash Direct make it easy to enjoy an authentic feast, with a range of traditional sides including champ, a traditional dish of mashed potato and chopped spring onion, and colcannon, a blend of mashed potato and cabbage, which make great partners to thick-cut bacon, lamb or sausages. Mash Direct's products are available nationwide, and simply need heating through, leaving you more time to enjoy the craic!

Discover Irish folk music - there's nothing like the sound of the fiddle and the bodhrán playing some jigs and reels to whisk your mind away to the emerald isle. Why not discover some of Ireland's most famous folk bands, responsible for reviving Irish folk in the 1970s. Bands such as The Chieftains, The Clancy Brothers and Planxty will be sure to get your toes tapping round the room.

Learn some Irish phrases - impress your friends with a few phrases in in gaelic:

Dia dhuit (dee-a ghwit) - Hello

Céad míle fáilte (kayd meeluh foll-tjuh ) - A hundred thousand welcomes

Conas atá tú? (cone-us ah-tah too) How are you?

Tá me go maith (Tah may guh MAH) - I am well thank you

Slán! (shlahn) - Goodbye!

Sláinte! (shlahn - che) Cheers!

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