Held to commemorate Ireland’s patron saint and the arrival of Christianity, St. Patrick’s Day has been an official Christian feast day since the early 17th century. Legend has it that the association with shamrocks and the “wearing of the green” stems back to Saint Patrick’s use of the three-leaved plant to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish. Celebrated in more countries than any other national festival, today St. Patrick’s Day is a tribute to the far-reaching influence of the Emerald Isle’s expatriate population. However, there’s nothing like experiencing 17th March in Ireland itself, where the public holiday is the climax of a long party. The official festival, established by the Irish government 23 years ago, includes four days of street parades, concerts, céilithe (traditional music sessions), theatre performances and fireworks. Whilst the best place to participate in the revelry is Dublin, cities, towns and villages throughout Ireland hold their own parades and festivals.