Happy St. Patrick’s Day! This holiday was originally established to celebrate the life of St. Patrick, who is said to have brought Christianity to the Irish isles. Today, there are still many pious Christians who mark the occasion with solemn services. However, in popular culture, St. Patrick’s Day has become a day to celebrate one’s Irish heritage. All over the world, people have been throwing huge celebrations and parades ever since the very first St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York City in 1762. Let’s take a closer look at how various cultures put their own unique twist on St. Patrick’s Day celebrations!
New York City, USA
Many American cities throw parades on St. Patrick’s Day. Chicago’s is well-known, in particular, because they dye the Chicago River green. But New York’s parade lays claim to being the longest running St. Patrick’s Day parade in the country. This parade came to have a great deal of symbolism for the thousands of Irish immigrants to the city during the years of hard times in their homeland. It was an unabashed celebration of what it meant to be Irish, and became a huge way for people to come together in a community. And this attitude ultimately came to influence the way St. Patrick’s Day parades were thought of and held in other places around the world to this day.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
It may come as a shock that Argentina hosts the fifth largest Irish population in the world. And Buenos Aires really puts on a show for their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations! While most of the world has floats and marching band performances during their parades, Buenos Aires features live music and dancing. Several blocks of the city are closed down to vehicular traffic for the revelry. All of this turns the Argentine capital into the place to be in South America for St. Patrick’s Day!
Tokyo may not have many Irish residents, but those that do live there go all out in the largest city in the world! About 2,000 participants join in an annual parade through the trendy neighborhood of Omotesando – right in-between the tourist hotspots of Shibuya and Harajuku. And the Irish pubs in the city (of which there are many more than you might expect!) send pretty women to hand out beer tokens during the parade. It is perhaps the most surprising place in the world to have a St. Patrick’s Day parade, but it’s an experience that is at once unique and comforting to the Irish residents of Tokyo.
St. Patrick’s Day in the homeland was, at one time, the complete opposite experience to the rest of the world. Because the day falls during the Catholic season of Lent, there wasn’t much celebration to be had. Most went to services and had a very low-key day. This all changed in 1961, when bars in Ireland were permitted to serve alcohol during Lent. Today, St. Patrick’s Day is a day of national pride. Tourists converge on Dublin to join in the revelry, with a big parade and bar crawls aplenty. Just remember to spare yourself some weird looks and don’t try to order a green beer during the celebrations. Enjoy a proper pint of Guinness at one of the many pubs in the center of the action!
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