St. Patrick’s Day in Spanish: Resources and a Surprising Story

Inside: Resources and ideas for learning about St. Patrick’s Day in Spanish.

We know St. Patrick’s Day– in Spanish, el día de San Patricio— as a day to celebrate Irish heritage and culture in the United State on March 17th. You might know a bit about St. Patrick, famous for first arriving to Ireland as a slave and later returning as an Irish missionary. St. Patrick’s Day has since become widely celebrated in the United States by Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

But did you know that Irish immigrants fought alongside Mexico, against the United States, in the Mexican-American war? Because of that (and because who doesn’t love the color green, good luck, and pots of gold), it’s a fascinating tie-in for Spanish learners.

It’s also an interesting cultural comparison to the popularity of Cinco de mayo, another unofficial holiday celebrated in the U.S. by many people.

In this post, we’ll dive into the Mexican-American-Irish connection mentioned above, and then I have a round-up of fun resources for teaching about Saint Patrick’s Day in Spanish class. You can see my list of free printables and resources from PreK – high school, all in Spanish!


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St. Patrick's Day in Spanish

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The Mexican-American-Irish Connection

The Mexican-American War, which lasted from 1846 to 1848, was a dispute over territory between Mexico and Texas. After Texas gained its independence in 1836, the Northern U.S. states did not want to incorporate Texas because that would increase the number of slave-holding states. However, the nation was increasingly looking westward to expand and tensions rose. According to,

A border skirmish along the Rio Grande started off the fighting and was followed by a series of U.S. victories. When the dust cleared, Mexico had lost about one-third of its territory, including nearly all of present-day California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico.

Mexican-American War

During the two years of fighting, the San Patricio Battalion was formed, mainly comprised of Irish immigrant soldiers who had joined to US Army for money or land, but deserted their side to fight against the US.

Why would they do this?

San Patricio Batallion

The reasons they deserted are complicated, Paredes says. As Irishmen and Roman Catholics, these immigrants faced a lot of discrimination in the overwhelmingly Protestant United States. “When the US actually went to war, many of them — being strong Catholics — saw what they considered an unfair invasion of a foreign country,” Paredes says.

The Irish deserters formed the core of the “Battalion of Foreigners,” which was later renamed the “Batallón de San Patricio.” Roman Catholic deserters from Germany and other European nations also joined them, as did some foreign residents of Mexico City. There were also several African Americans who had run away from slavery in the southern United States.

Mexico now honors these Irish soldiers on September 12th and March 17th. Streets have been named after the batallion, and various ceremonies have been held by the Mexican government to commemorate their contributions in Mexico City and the Mexican Congress. (This included a postage stamp in 1997 and inscriptions on the walls of Congress.)

To learn more about the San Patricio Batallon, here are two video resources (in English):

St. Patrick’s Day in Spanish Resources

Here are a few resources in Spanish for teachers or parents to adapt:

5 Songs in Spanish about suerte:

  • Día de suerte por Alejandra Guzmán
  • La de la mala suerte por Jesse y Joy
  • Qué suerte por Violeta Rivas
  • Suerte por Shakira
  • Mala suerte por Julio Sosa

Free Printables for Spanish Learners

For Young Spanish Learners:

For Middle/High School:

Videos for el día de San Patricio

This video is a great overview of the holiday (preview for your context as alcohol is mentioned and it is heavily religious):

This video shows Mexicans celebrating and parading for el día de San Patricio and includes several interviews:

Rainbow (Arcoíris) Resources

Especially if you’re working with younger learners, rainbows are always a popular theme. You could use this as a chance to review the colors, or the weather as you learn about rainbows. And maybe your older students would get into it as well– who doesn’t feel lucky when they spy a rainbow?

I hope these ideas were helpful to you. If you have more ideas and Spanish resources, let me know in the comments below!

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One Comment

  1. Muy interesante! Gracias!!

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