ST PATRICK’S DAY CELEBRATIONS AROUND THE WORLD
We all know how the Irish like to celebrate their patron saint – eating, drinking, dancing and merriment. It’s the one day of the year when the boozy Irish stereotype rings true – thanks in large part to St. Patrick’s day being an acknowledged break in fasting for Lent.
While Ireland may only be home to some 6 million inhabitants, its cultural reach extends far and wide. Outside Ireland, St Patrick’s day is an internationally celebrated, time-honoured tradition of festivity, feasting and drinking in equal measure all across the globe. From Japan to the Caribbean, Iceland to South Africa, here’s how the rest of the world likes to celebrate…
Home to tech giants like Samsung, this distinctly urbanised, multi-cultural country still finds time to celebrate St Patrick’s day; thanks in large part to the Irish Association of Korea and their traditional Seoul-based parade and festival.
One day per year isn’t enough for the Japanese – they like to spread their St Patrick’s day celebrations across the entire month of March! First organised by The Irish Network Japan in 1992, the Tokyo-based carnival has become a mainstay and a permanent must-see on Tokyo’s cultural calendar.
Montserrat is a tiny island in the Caribbean and is often referred to as the “Emerald Island of the Caribbean” in large part to its founding by the Irish. To this day, the people of Montserrat continue to celebrate St Patrick’s day because of their Irish heritage and in honour of a slave revolt in the late 1700’s – a dark but important part of the islands cultural heritage. Festivities held over St Patrick’s week commemorate the culture of Montserrat in song, dance, food and traditional costumes.
New York has been holding St Patrick’s day celebrations for over two centuries, thanks in part to large scale immigration from Ireland from the late 1700’s. Today, New York plays host to a 6 hour-long parade which annually attracts over 1 million spectators. On occasion even the Empire State Building has been known to get in on the act!
From a technical perspective, due to the time difference, Australia plays host to St. Patrick’s day celebrations before even the Irish! Traditionally the Aussies congregate in Hyde Park North to sing the Australian and Irish national anthems, before playing host to a multitude of local Irish bands and musicians. Never a city to be outdone, like New York, Sydney has been known to light up green for St. Patrick’s!
On occasion, the happiest place in the world can also be the most Irish place in the world! Disneyland, Paris has, like New York and Sydney, been known to light their iconic landmarks bight green in honour of Irelands patron saint. One can see famous Disney faces dressed specially for the occasion, singing and dancing along to traditional Celtic harmonies.
Here in the UK, being so close to our Irish brethren, we tend to celebrate Saint Patrick’s day in a number of different ways. Most notable perhaps is the London-based St Patrick’s day parade which takes place on the closest weekend to the day and culminates in Trafalgar Square. In 2008 the water in the Trafalgar Square fountains was even dyed green!
THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION
Astronauts on board the International Space Station have celebrated the festival in different ways. Most recently Chris Hadfield took photographs of Ireland from earth orbit, and a picture of himself wearing green clothing in the space station, and posted them online on Saint Patrick’s Day in 2013. He also posted online a recording of himself singing “Danny Boy” in space.
These incredible celebrations prove that, while Ireland may be geographically small, its global significance should never be underestimated! Its culture, heritage and fun-loving personality is celebrated across the globe and occasionally, even looking down on the Emerald Isle from thousands of feet above it.