One of the most celebrated holidays is St. Patrick's Day. This is the day where people all over the world - Irish or not - dress in green and shamrocks to celebrate a day of parades, festivals and green beer. For this day alone everyone is Irish, and every place celebrates it differently.
In Ireland, which is the birthplace of this holiday, this day is treated more like a religious day, like Christmas or Easter. The Irish began their celebration with a mass service and prayer. It is observed to celebrate one of the most well-known patron saints of Ireland, Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. The parades, shamrocks and green beer are tourist attractions, but a major one at that. St. Patrick's day has become one of the most celebrated events in Ireland.
The parades in Ireland began in the late 19th century with the growing amount of Irish nationalism. Dublin's parade is part of a five-day festival that features bands, music, dancing, and a lot of green; most of the businesses are closed except for restaurants and bars. Green is not the only color worn to celebrate this occasion; another favorite is orange, the third color in Ireland's flag.
St. Patrick's Day is consider a Christian festival, but it was rarely acknowledged by Northern Irish loyalist who thought this day to be an Irish Republican event. The Unionist wear orange which often, but not always, represents Northern Ireland. The Irish flag is not the official flag of Northern Ireland that is a part of the United Kingdom.
Parades are a large part of many holidays like the Macy's Day Parade in New York. Other then wearing the color green, most other places around the world that celebrates this holiday due to the large amounts of Irish men and women living in that country. Other Dublin and New York, the third largest St. Patty's Day parade is in Birmingham that runs over two miles through the city. While many cities in the UK have parades, Manchester dedicates a two week festival in honor of the Irish; the festival is held weeks prior to St. Patrick's Day, holding a number of educational and cultural events. Manchester is said to have a large Irish population, as well as the largest Irish festival in the UK.
Florence, Italy host a large festival much like Manchester, only without a parade. Instead, the people of Florence lend their city out to a ten day event called "Festa Irlandese" where live music, food, and drinks is available to the thousands of visitors that venture here. Most of the food and drinks served are an Italian interpretation of a common Irish version.
Though Italy does not hold a parade, Norway and Germany pick up the slack, both hosting large parades, both ending in large parties in the town square. Oslo, Norway parade features a pipe band and a Irish characters like Saint Patrick, the namesake of the day, in a horse and carriage with a red-bearded chaffer. Munich is the third largest German city along with the largest Irish community in Germany. The parade was first organized in 1996 and has evolved to incorporating German clubs and societies. The Munich parade ends with live music and performances.
Denmark uses this St. Patrick's Day as way to raise money for various charities in Denmark by hosting the 'St. Patrick's Day 3 Legged Charity Race.' The event started in Copenhagen in 2001 by the Irish community and pub owners. In the past, all proceeds have went to charities for children with cancer and Neonatal Department in Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen.
St. Patrick's Day marched its first parade through the streets of Moscow in 1992, which was a huge success and planning for the next year begin. The years after the parade grew with more participants and sponsors, until 1998 when the economy collapsed causing the cancellation for 1999 parade. With the help of the Moscow government and various other groups, the parade is now a yearly event.
Last - but not least - the United States is covered in green around March 17, on this day, Irish or not, in every part of the United States, everyone celebrates. Philadelphia holds the second oldest St. Paddy's Day parade after New York City. Savannah, Georgia celebrates on March 17, whether it is doing the week or on the weekend; they dye the fountain water as well.
Influenced by the antics of Mardi Gras, instead of walking a steady pace on the route, New Orleans parade features floats, jazz bands, characters in costume, and float riders throwing beads, cabbages,and potatoes into the crowd. St. Patrick's Day in New York is normally associated with the parade held in New York City, but there is another section of the state that holds one of the largest St. Patrick's Day celebration in the United States, Syracuse, New York. The celebrations happens in the Irish section of the city, with green beer served and is home to the "Green-on-Top" Traffic Light.
And finally there is New York City. It has the largest parade with participants ranging from bands to firefighters to multiple different clubs and societies. To keep the festivities fun, the parade has banned any politically motivated groups such as pro-life groups. Many politicians running for a New York office can be seen marching in this parade. Spectators watch as the parade moves uptowns, rather then downtown, it is the only parade in New York City that travels opposite of the normal parade route.
Whether you are a 100% or don't have a single drop of Irish blood running through your veins, this is day where all are welcomed to celebrate Irish culture either through parades and festivals or over pints of kelly green beers. This is a holiday most can't wait for.
Van Dyne may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.