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Saint Patrick was a missionary and bishop in Ireland in the 5th century. The story goes that he was kidnapped and taken as a slave when he was 16 years old. While he was working as a shepherd, he "found" God. As the story goes, God told Patrick to flee and a ship would be waiting at the coast to take him home. After he finally came home, he became a priest. In 1903 Saint Patrick's Day became an official public holiday in Ireland, which was also the year that the first St Patrick's Day parade was held in Waterford. Nowadays it's one of the biggest celebrated public holidays in Ireland and involves festivals, music sessions and parades. It's customary to wear three-leaved shamrocks on (green) clothing. The color green is associated with the Catholics in Ireland and green ribbons and shamrocks are worn on St Patricks Day since the 1680's. Nowadays the color green is also associated with Irish nationalism, due to its use by the United Irishmen. On St Patrick's Day some people also wear the St Patrick's Day Cross, which was very popular in the 20th century. In the United States, St Patrick's Day has been celebrated since the 18th century and has become more and more popular over the years. Even though it's not a public holiday, festivals and parades across the country are held to celebrate the Irish and Irish-American culture. On St Patrick's Day, there are a number of festivals and parades held.
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