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St. Patrick's Day Around The World
Just because you’re too busy to travel all the way to Ireland to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day doesn’t mean that you can’t have a good time celebrating Irish traditions. Chicago, New York City, Sydney, and even Tokyo have their own ways to celebrate the St. Patrick’s Day holiday. What began as the feast of Ireland’s patron saint has now grown into one of the biggest holidays celebrated anywhere in the world.
Up until 2002, St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland was celebrated as more of a religious holiday, the way it used to be in the old days. Following the hoof and mouth disease scare that canceled parades in 2001, Dublin decided they should embrace the gimmicky shamrocks and green beer to help boost tourism. The 5-day Dublin St. Patrick’s Day festival is now the largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the country and has an attendance of over 700,000 people for parade day alone.
In the United States, green-clad partiers line the streets for parades in over a dozen cities. Boston, New York and Chicago host the most popular of these events, but you can even find a parade or two in New Orleans where the influence of Mardi Gras has led to an evolution of Saint Patrick’s Day parades around the big easy. Even after the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, locals and tourists alike will be able to catch their share of St. Patrick’s Day beads tossed from elaborate parade floats.
Across the globe in Tokyo, Japanese citizens have been joining the Irish in celebration since 1992. The Tokyo parade is organized by the Irish Network Japan (INJ) with the support of the Embassy of Ireland. The Japanese love a good party and they are particularly fond of all things Irish - including Irish setters and Guinness beer for about $8.00 a pint! However, popular St. Patrick’s Day parade highlights are the "free beer girls" who represent the local Irish taverns by handing out vouchers which are good for complimentary green beer.
Since the entire month of March is festival season down under, Sydney’s calendar is full of events, many of them representing Irish culture. There are Irish heritage at breakfasts, lunches, dinners, balls, race days, golf days, and concerts. Of course, there'll be plenty rounds of drinks in Australia's more than 150 Irish pubs. However it’s not all about drinks for Australia. A traditional Saint Patrick's Day Mass is held at St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney.
So there you have it. What once began as a traditional Irish holiday for spiritual renewal and offering prayers for missionaries worldwide, has now come to be associated with everything Irish: anything green and gold, shamrocks and luck. No matter where you are or what country you live in, chances are you will see a little bit of the "wearing of the green" on March 17th.
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