March always brings us one of our favorite events and we are not talking about spring… but St. Patrick’s Day! Every March 17, Ireland and a large part of the world are dyed green to celebrate this day, and Madrid wants to be part of it too. This old Irish saying seems to ring particularly true during this day: “There are only two types of people in the world, the Irish and those who wish they were”.
SAINT PATRICK, IRELAND’S PATRON
Saint Patrick, Ireland’s patron, is one of the most celebrated saints around the world. He was the first person to preach Christianity in Ireland, which was pagan land at the end of the fourth century. Today is the country with the third-most Catholics in the West, only behind Italy and Spain.
It makes sense that March 17 is one of the most celebrated days in the world since in the nineteenth century many Irish emigrated to avoid famine, getting other countries involved in their traditions, including the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. Full of parades, parties, and beer, lots of beer.
The Munich parade is the largest in Europe attracting 25,000 participants and spectators, but the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland helps to organize more than 350 events in 100 countries around the world. So, even if you are not in Ireland, nothing will stop you from celebrating your national holiday!
WHY THE GREEN COLOR?
You may have noticed that in St. Patrick everyone is wearing green, although, did you know that this color was not always associated with this holiday? The first representations of Saint Patrick show him dressed in blue and the official color of his religious Order is light blue.
One of the reasons why blue was replaced by green was because of Ireland’s nickname: “the emerald island”. It is called that because of its many green areas. And the other reason is the green band on the Irish flag. Traditionally, the green represents the Catholics, the orange represents the Protestant population and the middle white symbolizes peace between the two religions.
For this reason, it has been a long tradition in Ireland to illuminate the most emblematic buildings in green to pay homage to their patron. This is a practice that has spread throughout much of the world, including Madrid. On the last 17th of March, Madrid illuminated three of the city’s most famous monuments: La Cibeles, Puerta de Alcalá and Palacio de Comunicaciones, from dusk to dawn. This tradition is nothing new. Did you know that the Chicago River turned green in 1961?
WHY THE SHAMROCKS?
Don’t be ashamed if you are confused about three-leaf clovers (shamrocks) and four-leaf clovers, because we are about to explain it. According to legend, Saint Patrick used a three-leaf clover to explain the Holy Trinity to pagans. Each leaf represented a divinity: father, son and the holy spirit. And that is why it has become a symbol of the festivity. Later on, the four-leaf clover also became a symbol of the holiday, although with another meaning not connected with Saint Patrick.
Four-leaf clovers are extremely rare. In general, they only have three leaves, because the fourth is a mutation. It is said that there are probably 10,000 three-leaf clovers for each four-leaf clover so to find one you have to be very very lucky and that’s why today, it is a symbol of good luck.
ST PATRICK AND BEER, WHY DO WE DRINK?
You may think St. Patrick is just an excuse for many people to go out and get drunk, although the truth is that this is a long-standing tradition. Christians were allowed to set aside their Lenten restrictions on the consumption of food and alcohol to honor St. Patrick on the anniversary of his death. So, alcohol has been permanently linked to this celebration.
The best Irish pubs in Madrid join this party with different offers and celebrations. You will find them decorated with clovers, beer, leprechauns (those elves with long beards and redheads) and a lot of green (even green beer). The atmosphere will make you forget for a moment that you are in Spain.
Take note of the best Irish pubs in the capital. For them it will surely be the liveliest weekend of the year:
- The Irish Rover: It is one of the most dazzling of Madrid, as its interior recreates an authentic Irish pub with its wooden walls and Gaelic quotes. It is spacious, has two floors and several tables, and of course a variety of special beers and lots of rations. The St. Patrick celebrations include a U2 tribute concert, quiz, and live Irish music.
📍 Avenida de Brasil, 7. Metro Santiago Bernabeu.
- O’Brian Irish Pub: A pub that is always full of people due to its prime location in Huertas. They are organizing an Irish Quiz if you want to test how much you know about Ireland and win fantastic prizes.
📍 Calle Príncipe, 12. Metro Sol or 7 minutes walking from Cats Hostels.
- O’Connell: They have advised people to bring their best dancing shoes for the weekend. The bar is very famous for being a venue where you can dance all night long. This St. Patrick’s, they also will have live entertainment and a rugby final. Well, as you know, Irish bars will always be the best options to watch televised sports.
📍 Calle Espoz y Mina, 7. Metro Sol or 6 minutes walking from Cats Hostels.
In Cats Hostels, we could not forget about this day that so many people like to celebrate. In Cats bar, we will have happy hour from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on both Friday 15 and Saturday 16. And the price for a liter of beer will be €3.5 all night, as we want you to honor San Patrick as much as you want! And for more fun, let’s play a game: we will hide clovers around the hostel and if you find them you can win prizes!
St. Patrick is a great opportunity to get to know the Irish culture better, drink beer and of course, party. And remember, whatever you do, do not forget to wear something green. CHEERS!!