Are You Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day? Be Irish & Share The Fun!

They say that all the world is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.  If so, then you best be gettin’ yer green on, because Monday is the day to celebrate.

Happy to Be Irish

Happy to Be Irish

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Good news… And as my Irish (American) husband is fond of saying, today is St. Practice Day!

(Though you may wonder, why would an Irish Catholic cop possibly need to ‘practice’ anything when it comes to celebrating? He was born ready!)

Like many, he’ll “practice” this whole weekend getting ready for the festivities on Monday… (imagine any Irishman who wouldn’t jump at the chance to indulge in a little extra Guinness?) He’s making his famous Guinness corned-beef with potatoes and cabbage, which he will turn into colcannon, along with baking soda bread.

(Note, though, that corned beef and cabbage is more of an Irish-American tradition than an authentically Irish one. In fact, most of this raucous celebrating developed outside Ireland, though with so many visitors, even Ireland has gotten on their own bandwagon and joined the fun!)

Here in Alexandria Virginia we have a fair number of Irish descendants in the area- about 10% of the population claims Irish roots, my husband’s family among them, having been in this area for more than 5 generations. The name Hilleary in Gaelic is said to have come from O’Laoghaire, and is often anglicized as O’Leary in addition to the various spellings of Hilleary.

The Quiet Man

Like many Irish-Americans, Joe has his own traditions, one of which each year is to re-watch John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara in, The Quiet Man.

He also like to gather with other “Irishmen” to have a pint and sing. One of Joe’s favorite pubs is Pat Troy’s “Ireland’s Own“, located in historic Old Town Alexandria, but over the years he’s also been known to frequent “Ireland’s Four Provinces” (known locally as the Four P’s) and its sister pub, “Ireland’s Four Courts“, Siné, and many others. Naturally, it was all in the name of keepin’ the peace, right? Just doin’ his civic duty.

No Irish pub would be complete without music. This video is of my favorite Irish pub  tune, Black Velvet Band… have a listen!

Black Velvet Band (Irish Rovers)

Have you ever wondered why Irish culture has been so widely exported, and readily adopted by so many non-Irish the world over?

My guess is that there are few cultures who actively promote humor and joyfulness as well as the Irish. Tell one Irish joke, or leprechaun story, and dozens more will follow- everyone seems to have a favorite and the Irish don’t seem to take offense. In fact, just the opposite!

Add to the humor and good nature of the Irish, the drinking, music, dancing, colorful hats and costumes, as well as the inclusiveness- all the world is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day... well, who could resist?

The Irish have traveled the world (many sent forcibly), planting a bit of Ireland wherever they have gone.

So, just how does the world celebrate? Want some ideas to get these festivities started in your town?

Here is a list of some of the best places to find a celebration to join (or ideas start your own!):

(Note: Accreditation links for all information here is given under Sources following)

Argentina

In Argentina,  especially in Buenos Aires,  a city which actually boasts the 5th largest Irish community in the world, all-night long parties are celebrated in designated streets, since the weather is comfortably warm in March. People dance and drink only beer throughout the night, until seven or eight in the morning. In Buenos Aires, the party is held in downtown street Reconquista, where there are several Celtic bars; in recent years, there were upwards of 50,000 people in this street and the pubs nearby.

Australia

Up to 30 percent of Australians claim some Irish heritage and there are over 50,000 Irish-born residents in Australia, according to the Australian Embassy in Ireland.

Among the celebrations is the Queensland Irish Association parade (Brisbane). The event portrays “The Irish Historical Story,” how men, women and children of all trades and professions were sent to Australia to help build a nation. Now in its 20th year, the march through the main streets of Brisbane City presents residents dressed up as teachers, widows and orphans, sugar cane cutters, gold miners, lawyers and stockmen.

Canada

The longest-running Saint Patrick’s Day parade in Canada occurs each year in Montreal, Québec. The parades have been held in continuity since 1824; however, St. Patrick’s Day itself has been celebrated in Montreal as far back as 1759 by Irish soldiers in the Montreal Garrison following the British conquest of New France.

While Montreal’s parade is the longest-running, the Toronto’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is one of the largest in North America. Since it began in 1988, the parade has grown to include 100 organizations, 32 Irish county associations, 2,000 marchers, 30 floats, 14 bands as well as an assortment of wolfhounds, leprechauns and talking shamrocks.

In the Province of Manitoba, the Irish Association of Manitoba runs an annual three-day festival of music and culture based around St Patrick’s Day.

Ireland 

(Strange But True)  The world’s  shortest (maybe 2nd) St. Patrick’s Day parade is held in the Irish village of Dripsey. It lasts only 100 yards, spanning the distance between the village’s two pubs.

Fun Fact:

5.5 million pints of Guinness are sold around the world each day, but on St. Patrick’s Day, that number jumps to 13 million pints.

Japan

Omote Sando- The Tokyo parade is organized by the Irish Network Japan (INJ) and was first held in 1992 with the support of the then Irish Ambassador to Japan, Mr. James Sharkey. Various dignitaries from many countries participate in the parade including the deputy prime minister of Ireland Mary Hearney in 2001.

The Japanese love a good party and they are particularly fond of all things Irish – including Guinness at about $7.00 a pint! There are a growing number of Irish pubs that send attractive young ladies to the parade for the sole purpose of handing out free beer vouchers. Not surprisingly, the ‘voucher girls’ are a parade highlight!

Spain

Along with many parties in Irish pubs across the country there will also be parades and festivals. Barcelona celebrates St Patrick’s Day with a traditional Irish Regatta. Little rowing boats, called Currachs, will compete against each other in races on the waterfront. You will feel like you are in Ireland with traditional dancing and music as well as food and drink to top it off.

West Indies

Montserrat, a lush little island in the Caribbean, is, like Ireland, nicknamed the Emerald Isle. Montserrat has a strong Irish heritage: In the 17th Century. Irish Catholics, persecuted on other Caribbean islands, found a welcome home on Montserrat. These same Irish Catholics had originally been banished from Ireland by Oliver Cromwell. Montserrat is the only country outside Ireland where St. Patrick’s Day is a public holiday. A week-long St. Patrick’s Festival (Mar. 9-18) is held; it’s a fun fusion of Irish, African and Caribbean culture, and one of Montserrat’s most popular annual events. The festivities feature a Freedom Run and the Masqueraders, masked street dancers who will dance and prance to the sound of fifes and drums.

USA

It was in Boston, Massachusetts  that Saint Patrick’s Day was first observed (by the Charitable Irish Society of Boston), but New York got in there first, holding a parade in 1762. Boston holds the second-largest parade in the U.S. (New York is in first place).

Along with the marching bands, colorful floats, Irish dancers, veterans, St. Patricks, storm troopers and Darth Vaders that skip along the sea of green from West Broadway to Dorchester Avenue on Mar. 16, there’s a 5-kilometre road race and plenty of Craic Agus Ceol (fun and music) and, of course, a plethora of Irish pubs to enjoy it in.

Hot Springs, Arkansas

FIRST EVER 11TH ANNUAL WORLD’S SHORTEST ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE”

Another self-proclaimed “world’s shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade” may also be the quirkiest. Across the 98-foot-long Bridge Street, labeled in the 1940s as the “Shortest Street in the World” by Ripley’s Believe It or Not, march a cast of characters, including the Famous San Diego Chicken, Irish Elvis impersonators and the Lards of the Dance, a troupe of middle-aged Irish dancers.

Don’t come here expecting tradition, but if you have a great sense of humor and you don’t mind an unusual good time, you can see some one-of-a-kind sights like a troupe of “Irish belly dancers” decked out in sparkly green costumes and (as if that wasn’t enough sparkle) the “Irish Order of Elvi,” a group of Elvis impersonators getting in touch with their inner Irishmen.

This year’s events also feature the world’s shortest wedding ceremony at under a minute, as well as the “Romancing the Stone” competition, in which the parade-goer with the most original kiss for an impromptu Blarney stone wins a $100 prize.

After the parade (and with a name like this, it won’t take long), join the Pub-Crawl and end the holiday with a rollicking good time.

New London, Wisconsin

St. Patrick’s Day officially begins in New London when the Shamrock Club, a group of residents dressed as leprechauns, sneakily changes highway signs to read New Dublin, an idea that received laughs and eventual city council approval over 20 years ago.

Although German immigrants originally settled the town, an influx of Irish residents in the 19th century forever changed the town’s traditions. Now, every March, corned beef and cabbage appear on the menu at local restaurants, Irish carolers sing at the senior citizens’ home and Shamrock Club members a.k.a. leprechauns, visit hospitals and schools.

The parade draws 30,000 people to the town of 7,000. In addition to a staged Finnegan’s Wake (a shout-out to the final work of Irish author James Joyce, in which a green-painted hearse drives down the parade route), bagpipe players and the high school band march down the street, following a trail of shamrocks painted on the pavement.

The grand finale is “Irish Fest,” which brings Celtic bands like Rising Gael and Seven Nations to perform for visitors underneath a huge heated tent, as the average high temperature in New London is 39 degrees Fahrenheit (about 3°C!)

New Orleans, Louisiana

The St. Patrick’s Day festivities in New Orleans run Mar. 13-23. The city’s Irish heritage stretches back to the 1840s, and, in the home of Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day is done a little differently; it’s the only parade where you can leave with the ingredients for a traditional Irish meal. During the Metairie Road St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the largest of the parades, float riders chuck green beads and trinkets for the spectators to catch. They also pass down potatoes, carrots, cabbages, onions and seasonings for an Irish stew.

New York City, New York

The world’s oldest and largest parade is run entirely by volunteers. There has been a St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York since March 17, 1762. And some families have been volunteering, turning a stretch of New York green, for generations. Although the day has become synonymous with exuberant, alcohol-fueled shenanigans, there’s no drinking allowed along the parade route.

Savannah, Georgia

More than 300,000 people are expected to visit Savannah to help celebrate the second oldest St. Patrick Day Parade in the United States and to enjoy the city-wide festivities.

Consisting of some 350 floats and marching units, the parade also includes representatives from various local Irish groups, Irish pipe bands, local and regional celebrities, area politicians and military units who make regular appearances in Savannah’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. You may even have the chance to drink green beer or to sample emerald-colored grits, for a true taste of St. Patrick’s Day, Savannah-style.

A beloved annual tradition, the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade marched through the shady streets of Savannah in 1813. In its earlier days, the parade was more of a military spectacle, with soldiers from various regiments marching in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Except for major wars, including the Civil War and World War 1, the parade has run nearly every year for almost 200 years.

On Friday thru Monday, March 14th thru 17th, River Street will host the biggest party of the year with the popular St. Patrick’s Celebration on the River. This nationally recognized festival features multiple stages of non-stop live entertainment, as well as interactive games, food, cold beverages and much more. City Market has live music, food and fun as they celebrate all things Irish! Festivities run March 2nd –March 17th.

– Step Dance River Dance

St. Patrick’s Day Fun Facts (Infographic)

May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.

May the Irish hills caress you,
May her lakes and rivers bless you.
May the luck of the Irish enfold you,
May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.

–Irish Blessings

Sources: 

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/unusual-st-patricks-day-celebrations-58807069/#oLWK0jDaKmc0DiYO.99 (Brisbane, Australia)

http://www.examiner.com/article/st-patrick-s-day-around-the-world-party-like-an-irish

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/unusual-st-patricks-day-celebrations-58807069/#CBoezvchkimSeTcW.99 (Hot Springs, AR)

http://www.vacationrentals.com/media/st-patricks-day-vacation.htm (Hot Springs, AR)

http://www.thestar.com/life/travel/2014/03/14/st_patricks_day_around_the_world_cities_in_which_
to_paint_it_green.html (New Orleans, LA;  Montserrat, West Indies)

http://www.oregonlive.com/events/index.ssf/2014/03/st_patricks_day_away_from_bars.html

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