St. Patrick’s Day, the day of the patron saint of Ireland where people make merriment and wear green, falls every year on March 17.
The day, which this year lands on a Friday, marks a celebration of Irish culture with parades, festive cuisine, music, dancing and drinking.
Those celebrating often wear green clothes, or bring green balloon, placards and other accessories of that color.
Newsweek has everything you need to know about the origins of St. Patrick’s Day, and how to wish others a “happy St. Patrick’s Day” in Irish.
A picture taken at the February 13 press conference ahead of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade at Kilian’s Irish Pub in Munich, Germany. St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17 every year. Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images
St. Patrick’s Day Origins
Saint Patrick is the most prominent of Ireland’s patron saints, and has become synonymous with the country thanks to St. Patrick’s Day celebrations taking place all over the world, not just among the Irish diaspora.
Although historical records surrounding Patrick’s life aren’t definitive, most scholars accept that he was alive during the 5th century and worked as a missionary in Ireland. He is credited with helping Ireland turn from a pagan nation into a Christian one.
Participants pictured marching in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade up 5th Ave. on March 17, 2022 in New York City. The annual parade celebrates Irish culture. Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images
How to Say Happy St. Patrick’s Day in Irish
Ronan Connolly of LetsLearnIrish.com, the online community for learners worldwide, suggests that St. Patrick’s Day is the perfect time to have a go at speaking Irish Gaelic.
He told Newsweek: “Ireland’s national holiday comes around every March 17th…and wouldn’t it be great to greet someone on St. Patrick’s Day with an Irish phrase or two?”
There are a few different ways to say Happy St. Patrick’s Day in Irish Gaelic, so Newsweek contacted some experts to get their thoughts.
According to Malachy Ó Néill, a professor of Irish at Ulster University, Northern Ireland, the basic way to communicate “happy St. Patrick’s Day” is to use the word “beannachtaí” (blessings or greetings) alongside “féile” (feast-day or festival) and “Pádraig” (Saint Patrick).
Put together, this gives us “Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig,” pronounced “ban-acty na fay-la pad-rig.”
Spectators at the 2022 NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 17, 2022 in New York City. Newsweek contacted some several Irish language experts to find out how to say “Happy St. Patrick’s Day” in Irish Gaelic. Roy Rochlin/Getty Images
Ó Néill told Newsweek: “Depending on who you’re addressing you might finish your sentence with ort (‘on you’—singular; pronounced ‘ort’) or oraibh (‘on you’—plural; pronounced ‘or-iv’). You may also opt for duit/daoibh (‘to you’—singular/plural; pronounced ‘ditch/deev’) or leat/libh (‘with you’—singular/plural; pronounced ‘lat/liv’).”
Connolly offered a slight variation to this, saying: “To wish someone Happy St. Patrick’s Day you can say ‘Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona duit! (pronounced ‘law ay-luh paw-drig dun-uh ditch’).
He added that “Lá Fhéile Pádraig” means “St. Patrick’s Day” and “sona” means “happy” in English.
Additionally, Connolly spoke to Newsweek about an alternative phrase to use on March 17.
He said: “You might also use the greeting ‘Lá Fhéile Pádraig faoi mhaise duit’ (pronounced ‘law ayla paw-drig fwee washa ditch’), which translates as, ‘A blessed St. Patrick’s Day to you.'”
“Once the celebrations are underway, and you want to give a toast in Irish, you can use the word ‘sláinte!’ which means ‘Good health!’,” they Connolly added.