St Patrick’s Day is celebrated every year on the 17th March. This is the anniversary of the death of Saint Patrick, the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland, in the 5th century.

St Patrick first came to Ireland at the age of 16, when he was captured and brought over as a slave from Roman Britain. Despite escaping Ireland, he returned there later on, credited with introducing Christianity to its people. Popular legend has it that Saint Patrick rid the country of its snakes; however, there have been no snakes reported in Ireland since the last Ice Age and so may be referring to the pagan worshippers of serpent or snake gods instead. Legend also tells us that Saint Patrick infamously used the leaves of a clover, or shamrock, to explain the Holy Trinity (The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit).

St Patrick became ever more ingrained in Irish tradition, that Saint Patrick’s Day is still celebrated today by Irish citizens and communities around the world. Celebrations often include parades and parties symbolised by the colour green and also with the consumption of traditional Irish food and drink such as Irish stew or a pint of Guinness. For many, it is a time to go on a pilgrimage to St Patrick’s Purgatory, a place associated with spiritual healing and repentance since the 13th century.

Click here to find out more about what’s going on in Reading to celebrate St Patrick’s day.