Holiday--St Pat's Day

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Western Holiday Summary Sheet

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Saint Patrick's Day, March 17th

© Dr. Harvey Taylor


1) March 17th is the day to remember an Englishman who lived over 1500 years ago in Britain and in Ireland.


2) When he was 16 years old, Irish pirates captured him and thousands of other English people and took them to Ireland. His name was Patrick, and he was sold as a slave to an Irish farmer who raised sheep.


3) Then after six years as a slave, Patrick escaped from his owner and found a ship. He told the Irish men on the ship about his life as a slave and about his Christian beliefs. They took him back to his home in England. There he went to school and became a Christian leader.


4) He later returned to Ireland to help the poor Irish people. He also told them about his Christian beliefs.


5) About 200 years later, the Roman Catholic Church came to Ireland and called this man St. Patrick because he was such a good man. Since then March 17th has been the special Roman Catholic Church’s day to remember St. Patrick.


6) In the 1600’s many Irish people left Ireland and went to live in America. They and their children helped to build America and to fight for independence from England.


7) George Washington, America’s first President, was one of these Irish-Americans.


8) Then between 1820 and 1845 thousands more Irish people left Ireland to find religious freedom in America. Even more Irish people went to America after 1845 because their potato plants suddenly died, and they were starving. Today, America has many millions of Irish-Americans (including the teacher who prepared this summary: Dr. Harvey Taylor).


9) About 100 years ago Irish leaders in America made St. Patrick's Day a holiday. But America's St. Patrick's Day is not really about St. Patrick. Instead it is a celebration for the Irish in America — a day for all Americans to say “thank you” to the Irish. Now the modern American St. Patrick's Day is really a day for all Irish-Americans.


10) Everything on St. Patrick's Day is green. Everyone who has any Irish ancestors is expected to wear something green on St. Patrick's Day — maybe even a green suit or dress, but at least a green shirt, necktie or hat. In fact, even if you are not Irish, if you don't wear something green, your friends can pinch you!


11) So, in America, in Ireland, and wherever there are people who have some Irishmen in their family history, March 17th is a day to remember the Irish, because of the famous Englishman (Patrick) who loved the people of Ireland more than 1500 years ago.

Note to teachers: This holiday summary is © Dr. Harvey Taylor; used here with permission. Dr. Taylor is the author of “Special Days - Special Ways: Western Holidays, Customs, Culture.” This teaching resource contains two textbooks and a video tape with 20 programs, produced at the request of the China TV Teacher’s College, and designed to be the cultural component of a 3-year middle school English teachers’ video course. These resources are available in China. Dr. Taylor's most recent teaching position in China was at Kunming University, and he now provides consulting for other professionals located in Yunnan (you can reach him by writing to me).



Permission granted to reproduce this sheet for classroom use. (Please see our “Website Standards and Use Policy” for materials available at

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