Why do people give gifts on St Patrick’s Day?

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Ireland celebrates the feast day of its patron saint, St Patrick, on 17 March each year, with millions more joining in the celebrations around the world.

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Most saints have designated days of celebration. These are referred to as their feast days, which is a Christian custom dating back to the earliest days of the religion when there was an annual commemoration of the death of martyrs and their birth into heaven.

Gifts for family and friends

More recently, it has become traditional in many Catholic countries to give gifts to individuals named after a saint on their Saint Day. Those celebrating St Patrick’s Day, because of an Irish connection, seem to have taken this one step further by purchasing gifts for family and friends to mark the day.

St Patricks Day gifts can be found online at websites such as https://www.shamrockgift.com/st-patricks-day.

Alcohol often features in celebrations; however, the most popular gifts tend to be those with an Irish connection, such as clothing or apparel featuring a popular symbol associated with the country. The shamrock is said to have been used by St Patrick to represent the Holy Trinity, with merchandise relating to one of the country’s sports teams also popular.

Irish diaspora around the world

The importance of the date for the country is reflected in the kind of activities government ministers take part in on the day. Last year, on the government’s Department for Foreign Affairs’ official website, Tánaiste (deputy head of government) Simon Coveney said that St Patrick’s Day was a unique opportunity for the country to promote itself around the world and celebrate its heritage with the Irish diaspora.

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Individuals are increasingly seeing it as an opportunity to take pride in their Irish roots and celebrate with family and friends. This inevitably leads to increased spending on the run-up to the day, which is recognised as a national holiday in the United States.

It is estimated a staggering US$5.9bn (£4.5bn) was spent on events and items related to the celebrations in 2019. In a recent survey, over 80 per cent of respondents said they would be wearing special clothing for the day, while 31 per cent expected to be going to a party at a friend or family member’s home and 37 per cent had booked a restaurant or bar.

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