St. Patrick’s Day, which falls on Thursday, March 17 2022, is not a federal holiday.
In fact, St. Patrick’s Day is not recognized as an official holiday in the United States, but it is still widely celebrated every year on March 17.
St. Patrick is credited with spreading Christianity throughout Ireland, according to “The Old Farmer’s Almanac,” and is said to have died on March 17 in the late 5th Century. He is recognized as the patron saint of Ireland. According to legend, he drove all the snakes away from Ireland and used a 3-leaf shamrock to teach the Holy Trinity, which is the Christian belief that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one.
Despite St. Patrick’s Day’s religious roots, it is more of a cultural celebration. Immigrants brought the holiday to the U.S. and Boston claims it hosted the first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the 13 colonies in 1737. St. Patrick’s Day became symbolic for Irish Americans as a way to respect their old country from their new one, transforming it from a religious feast day to a celebration of their heritage and homeland, rich with food, flowing beer and parades.
It has survived and spread over the centuries. Celebrations today are widespread across America, with parades in Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco and many other places in between.
The saying goes, “everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day,” and the sea of emerald green across America shows it. Green is a nod to the Irish flag, on which the color represents nationalism. Shamrocks, likewise, were a symbol of Ireland, a sacred plant that symbolized the rebirth of spring.
Leprechauns are legendary creatures with Irish roots, so they are also tied to the holiday. The pint-sized tricksters are said to hide a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Catching one is said to be lucky, as the leprechaun will grant you three wishes.
The Smithsonian Magazine traced the roots of corned beef and cabbage, known today as a feast for St. Paddy’s Day. While Ireland was once a major exporter for corned beef, those who lived there could not afford to eat it. In America, the Irish finally had money to purchase meat – and they bought what they could afford: corned beef. Cabbage became a substitute for the potatoes of Ireland, wrapping up the dish.
St. Patrick’s Day falls between Ash Wednesday and Easter, in the middle of Lent, which is viewed as a religious time of fasting. According to Time Magazine, having a religious feast day in the middle of the fast was considered a welcome break to enjoy meat, alcohol or other indulgences.
The traditions tied to St. Patrick’s Day are largely American: It wasn’t until televisions gave the Irish a peek into celebrations in the U.S. in the 20th century that pubs opened for the day.
Because St. Patrick’s Day is not a federal holiday, most federal employees will be required to work and will not be eligible for holiday premium pay.
The next federal holiday for federal workers is Memorial Day, on Monday, May 30, 2022.