☘️ Unusual St. Patrick’s Day traditions around the world
This day is known as a celebration of Irish national pride, but in fact, St. Patrick’s Day traditions are for everyone, and you don’t necessarily have to be Irish to take part in the celebration. It was actually Irish emigrants (especially those who settled in the United States) who made it into the holiday we know today. Here’s how it looks like in some parts of the world and also here are a few of the most unusual St. Patrick’s Day traditions.
🟢 United States
New London, Wisconsin
Leprechauns wander around the city of New London and change all the signs to “New Dublin” for this day only. Even on the highway. The leprechauns (members of the local Shamrock Club) go on to visit hospitals and schools. The parade also includes a staged adaptation of Finnegan’s Wake.
How do people start St. Paddy’s Day here? With a plunge into the freezing Atlantic Ocean at 5:30 a.m. Afterward come a free Irish breakfast, a live auction, and a raffle at a nearby restaurant. Of course, it’s all for a good cause (and not just adrenaline): The event donates proceeds to charity.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Due to the pandemic, parades are a rare find these days. But when they did take place, the New Orleans parades on St. Patrick’s Day were something special. New Orleans might be the only place where you can take part in a vegetable food fight. All the ingredients that go in Irish stew (especially cabbages), minus the beef. This ceremonial throwing of the cabbages is meant to memorialize how cabbage replaced potatoes during the potato famine, becoming a staple of Irish cuisine.
Want more unusual St. Patric’s Day traditions? Cities dyeing their waterways green for St. Paddy’s Day. And Chicago’s green river is the most famous. Every normal year (when there’s no pandemic around), the Chicago River turns green in time for a parade held on the closest Saturday to the holiday. This tradition has been guarded by the Butler and Rowan families for more than 50 years. A six-person boat crew (family only) distributes a top-secret recipe that contains eco-friendly, vegetable-based dye into the river, casting a spell on the waterway that can last for a few days.
🟢 Ise, Japan
One of Japan’s St. Patrick’s Day parades usually kicks off at the Ise Shrine, which is dedicated to a Shinto sun goddess. With the Japanese and Irish flags flying together, residents dress like leprechauns, play bagpipes, and do jigs. The day culminates with an oyster festival.
This Caribbean island, home to an important Irish Catholic population since the 17th century, is the only place in the world outside of Ireland where St. Patrick’s Day is a public holiday. Montserrat’s celebration usually lasts for 10 days! In addition to celebrating the saint, the day also commemorates a slave rebellion and includes a calypso competition and Creole food, blending the island’s Irish and African heritage.
🟢 International Space Station
It seems that St. Patrick’s Day isn’t only earthbound. In 2013, a Canadian astronaut wore green, took a photo of Ireland from space, and posted a video of him singing “Danny Boy.” This builds on the precedent of another astronaut who performed an Irish flute song in space to commemorate St. Patrick’s Day.
When all parades and the St. Patrick’s Day traditions are over, or simply cancelled due to social distancing, don’t forget that the real treasure at the end of the rainbow is actually a good laugh over the phone with your family or friends, after a long day. So this St. Patrick’s Day just put on your green outfit and call home. To remind yourself how lucky you really are. 😉