St. Patrick’s Day in America

St. Patrick's es una festividad típicamente irlandesa que se hizo enormemente popular en Estados Unidos. Os explicamos las diferencias en la manera en que se vive a ambos lados del Atlántico.

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On St. Patrick’s Day, like most Catholic families in Ireland, the first thing my family do is to go to mass. That’s because St. Patrick’s Day is traditionally a religious celebration there. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. People say that he converted the country to Christianity, probably in the 5th century. 


In America, however, St. Patrick’s Day is more of a cultural holiday, a day to celebrate Ireland more than a day to celebrate St. Patrick. There’s a good reason for this. During the Great Potato Famine of the mid-1800s, almost a million Irish Catholics emigrated to America. Many of them were subjected to racial prejudice, so they carried on the tradition of St. Patrick’s Day to celebrate and defend their Irish heritage


After mass, my family and I always go to the local parade, a festival of music and dance that is on in almost every village, town and city in Ireland. I always thought St. Patrick’s Day parades were a quintessentially Irish tradition. 

In fact, the world’s first St. Patrick’s Day parade was in 1762 in New York City, which still has the world’s biggest parade every year, with more than 150,000 participants. Ireland didn’t have its first St. Patrick’s Day parade until 1903. Dublin now has a five-day St. Patrick's Festival.

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Americans certainly take the colour green more seriously than the Irish do. On my first St. Patrick’s Day in Los Angeles, I went to the pub and someone pinched me – because I wasn’t wearing green! That’s a very American tradition. In Ireland, the majority of people simply wear a shamrock or a St. Patrick’s Day badge, but here many people wear green from head to toe

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Americans also dye the Chicago River green for the occasion, probably because Chicago has a big Irish population. And many pubs serve green beer. Yuck! I think I’ll just have a nice normal black and white Guinness, thank you very much!

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