How Countries Around the World Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day
St. Patrick’s Day isn’t just for people in Ireland and Americans who want to pretend to be Irish for a day. There are celebrations of this saint and his saintly day all around the world.
Here in the U.S., we turn rivers, food and beer green for the day, paint our faces green, put on every piece of green clothing we can find, watch a green parade and then drink everything in sight, all for the sake of some strange guy named St. Patrick from another country.
Why? Well, it’s been a while since we’ve had a reason to party during the long, cold winter. Also, it's fun!
So, how do people in other countries celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Are we the only ones who turn everything green and test the limits of our alcohol and corned-beef tolerance?
Obviously, the mother ship of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations is docked in Ireland, and most especially Dublin. On the Emerald Isle, St. Pat’s is a public holiday at the level of Christmas or Easter. Everything is closed except pubs and restaurants. Revelers dress in their green and orange best, and there are more than 100 parades around the country. People also attend mass and hold community feasts and charity shows. Shamrocks and green beer? That's for the tourists.
St. Patrick’s Day is a big deal in Moscow. The country's Irish community put together a parade in 1992, but the party has gotten bigger every year and become a giant celebration for Muscovites. The parade was cancelled in 1999, following an economic downturn, but in 2000 the St. Patrick’s Society of Russia worked with the government to get it back on track. The party's still going all these years later (see photo above).
The biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Japan occurs in Tokyo, and boy do they know how to throw an Irish party in Tokyo. There has been a St. Pat’s parade in Tokyo since 1992, when it was first put on by the Irish Network of Japan. The large, festive extravaganza includes foreign dignitaries, members of the Irish Setter Club and their dogs, people dressed up as leprechauns, and local businesses. The pubs send out their prettiest representatives to hand out vouchers for free beer, and the streets are lined with Irish and Japanese flags. Party people in Tokyo love a good Guinness and a kicky green hat.
The St. Patrick’s Day party rages on all night long in Buenos Aires, Argentina. There, all-night parties are held in designated streets, often near Celtic bars. Just as any St. Pat’s party should go, people wear green, paint their faces, and dance and drink beer till the break of dawn. A huge parade honors everyone’s favorite saint, featuring performances by Irish-inspired dancers, musicians and bands. If you’ve ever been anywhere near Argentina, you know they know how to have a good time, and they have something extra to celebrate this year with: an Argentinean pope.
On March 17, the red Maple Leaf turns green. Canada is the only country outside Ireland where St. Patrick’s Day is a public holiday. In the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, offices are closed and workers get the day off for their official St. Patrick’s Day holiday. Originally celebrated by Irish soldiers in 1759, St. Pat’s is now a pretty big deal for our neighbors to the north. In Toronto the St. Paddy’s Day parade is one of the largest in North America, and in Manitoba, they have a three-day festival celebrating the music and culture of St. Patrick and his people. Canadians are no strangers to beer, so we’re guessing the Guinness flows freely on this festive day.