Although St. Patrick’s Day marks the feast day of the patron saint of Ireland, it’s celebrated across the world by everyone of Irish descent. (At one point, the celebrations were bigger outside of Ireland than in it!) The day is mostly celebrated with parades and dressing up in a sea of green, but some places have their own way of “going Irish”.
On St. Patrick’s Day, many world landmarks are illuminated in a green light. This is a rather recent tradition, only being started in 2010, with the Opera House in Sydney and the Auckland Tower being the first to adopt it. The illuminations are part of a campaign by the Irish tourism board for the world to “go green” for St. Patrick’s Day.
Many cities with a river often dye the water green. The most famous “green river” is in Chicago, but many other cities also colour their rivers green, including London. In 2008, during the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, the water fountains in Trafalgar Square were dyed green. However, London surprisingly does not have the biggest St. Patrick’s Day parades in Britain; instead, the parade in Birmingham is said to be the world’s third biggest after Dublin and New York. There are also significant parades in Liverpool, which has the highest population of Irish descent on the British mainland, and in Glasgow, thanks to a large influx of Irish immigrants in the 19th century.
St. Patrick’s Day parades are also held in many more places around the world, including some which you wouldn’t expect there to be a lot of Irish expats. Japan has a surprising amount of parades on the day, as does South Korea and Argentina, which has the fifth largest community of Irish immigrants in the world. Despite the fact that St. Patrick’s Day is now a worldwide celebration, not just an Irish celebration, it is only designated as a national holiday in three places around the world: the Caribbean island of Montserrat, the Canadian province of Newfoundland, and Ireland itself. The beer brand Guinness is part of a campaign for St. Patrick’s Day to be recognized as a holiday everywhere.
Wherever you are in the world on St. Patrick’s Day, get your craic on!