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St. Patrick’s Day means a lot of different things to a wide assortment of humans ‘round the globe. Yeah, that’s what I said.
According to an article by The Business Insider last fall, the celebration is a world-wide one. Historians Mike Cronin and Daryl Adair report that it is celebrated in more countries than any other national festival.
Apparently, this little Irish holiday, oh yes, make no mistake, wee folk consider it a holiday, is a pretty big honking deal. Okay, maybe not officially…
Formally, St. Patrick’s Day is a public holiday only in Ireland and (who’da thunk it?) the Caribbean island of Montserrat. I found it curious that the latter is the only place other than the Emerald Isle to acknowledge St. Patrick's Day as a bonafide holiday.
The BJI article explains that Montserrat, a British territory, “boasts centuries of Irish influence, and its annual festivities blend Irish and African traditions.”
As one of my favorite Irishmen Matthew McConaughey would say, “Well…all right, all right, all right!”
Some of the other least-expected –at least in my opinion-- places to go green on March 17th each year? Um, Singapore. They have a huge parade/party sponsored by the Irish brew-meisters at Guinness. Over in Rio de Janeiro, Brazilians guzzle pints of green beer while Argentinians in Buenos Aires watch Irish movies, partake in pub crawls and attend processions and carnivals. Berlin, Sydney, Mumbai and even Montreal are all staple cities for choice parties, too.
Back in the United Kingdom, home to more Irish emigrants than any other place on the third rock, hundreds of thousands of people line up for days to catch a glimpse of the sprawling parade that winds it way down Piccadilly Road in London and ending with a huge concert/raucous bash in the middle of Trafalgar Square.
Wonder if Wils and Harry will make it this year? Not bloody likely, I suppose.
In Ireland itself, the arguably biggest gala takes place in Dublin, which hosts a full week of festivities including a massive parade that ends at St. Patrick's Cathedral. That’s to say nothing of the gallons upon gallons of alcohol --- green or otherwise—and corned beef and cabbage consumed on any given March 17th in Ireland.
Sounds familiar, no?
‘Cause across the pond here in the good old US of A, we know how to salute the shamrock, Capisce? Sorry, the Italian half sprouts up without warning a lot.
Anyway, NYC ‘s Breezy Point in Queens is the only place in the states where Irish is the majority heritage. Though Bean Town is pretty darned famous for its strong Irish roots, too. I mean, they’ve got an annual parade attended by more than a million people, tons of whom watch precariously from the rooftops, weather permitting. Hmm, alcohol and standing on the roof…wonder how busy the Boston urgent care centers get by early evening?
Natch, a bazillion people go to Chicago every St. Patrick’s Day to watch the river turn green.
Kegs-n-eggs, green spaghetti, sip-and-step walks from bar-to-bar; yeah, ‘Murcia digs St. Patrick. I think he’s trending more than the Kardashians.
For me, the day has always meant the wearin’ o the green (especially fun buttons), sipping Shamrock shakes, listening to “The Unicorn Song” and “The Orange and the Green” about a thousand times each, …and celebrating at Mass, since the whole holiday commemorates how St. Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland, after all.
Oh, and of course, hearing Pop explain that St. Patrick was actually Italian.
Kimerer is Tribune Chronicle columnist whose heritage is all about St. Pat, one way or another, Capisce? Visit her at www.partriciakimerer.com