A Green Globe: Saint Patrick’s Day Around the World

Griffin Sonnemann-Creed, Columnist

Every month has a holiday that is typically associated with it. February has Valentine’s, October has Halloween, and for March there’s Saint Patrick’s Day. Annually, on the 17th of March, the holiday is celebrated with shamrocks, leprechauns, and booze. Lots and lots of booze. But strangely enough, Ireland, the home of St. Patrick’s Day, barely celebrates the holiday in comparison to other countries around the globe.

Back home in Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day has been celebrated for over a millenia. As the patron saint of Ireland, the day is far more religious in nature compared to other countries, with many Irish praying or feasting in St. Patrick’s honor. However, it was originally far more politicized and violent. While originally, religious violence between the Protestant majority Northern Ireland and the Catholic rest of the isle, recent years have seen better cooperation between the British and Irish governments. In addition, the holiday has been used by Irish political leaders to further their agenda. According to the History Channel, St. Patrick’s Day was originally celebrated religiously, with pubs being closed on the holy day. In recent decades, however, the government has attempted to revive public interest in the holiday in order to increase tourism to the Emerald Isle.

In North America, St. Patrick’s Day is perhaps celebrated with the most fervor. In Canada and the United States, the holiday is considered especially important due to the large number of descendants of the Irish immigrants who came here in the 19th century. In particular, the city of Montreal, Canada, with a large Irish population, hosts one of the longest-running St. Patrick’s Day parades in the entire world. Other Canadian cities like Quebec and Toronto have their own parades, as well.

Meanwhile, south of the Canadian border, the United States associates the holiday with the color green, which leads to some interesting ways to celebrate the holiday. Perhaps most famously this is exemplified in Chicago, Illinois, where every year they dye the Chicago River bright green. In fact, the combined celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day throughout the U.S. costed $4.4 billion dollars in 2016, according to Fortune.

St. Patrick’s Day is not just celebrated in English-speaking countries, though. In particular, the Asian countries of South Korea, Japan, and Malaysia all have their own ways to celebrate the holiday, primarily through drinking and parades, much like others. Argentina, primarily Buenos Aires, also celebrates the holiday due to a substantial Irish population. The Reconquista street has a line of Irish pubs on it, so it is commonly the center of these celebrations.

Even if you’re not on Planet Earth, people celebrate. In the International Space Station, the crew celebrates by playing music and dressing up. Catherine Coleman, an Irish-American astronaut, played a 100 year old flute she borrowed from Matt Molloy, an Irish musician. Chris Hadfield, famous for his cover of “Space Oddity,” sung the traditional folk Irish song “Danny Boy” and posted it on social media while in space.

In the end, St. Patrick’s Day seems to be celebrated the same way throughout almost the entire world. From Japan to Ireland itself, you’ll find people drinking, dancing, and having a blast during the greenest day of the year.