I’m tired of these @#$%! snakes
on these #$%@$! Irish plains!
— St. Patrick, 433 AD
When the going gets tough, the tough go green. And the hard times haven’t dimmed the green glow (or watered down the green beer) of St. Patrick’s Day from the Emerald Isle to North America.
For a run-down of the slave-turned-priest who we celebrate today, check out last year’s St. Patrick’s Day post: Green is Good.
This year we travel around the world to see how St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in different cities.
American Servicemen and women in Baghdad held their first (and possibly last) St. Patrick’s Day Parades. It was considerably smaller than, say, New York’s festivities, but the tiny procession drew a respectable amount of confused looks from curious Iraqis. AFP
In New Orleans, the St. Patrick’s parades are second only to Carnival/Mardi Gras. Instead of throwing beads, float-riders threw food: full heads of cabbage, carrots, and potatoes. “Everything you need to make an Irish stew, minus the meat,” says New Orleans native Odin (yes, that’s his real name). And that’s exactly what participants do with it. “And if you’re a mother with kids, forget it.You’ll go home with more food than you could eat in a month.”
But watch out for large flying edible projectiles!
The St. Patrick’s Day parade in Toronto is relatively young, but gaining in popularity. The Irish have a long tradition in Canada’s largest city. According to toronto.ctv.ca:
In 1847, when the city of Toronto was only 13 years old and had only 20,000 residents, more than 38,000 Irish refugees of the Great Famine — which lasted from 1845 to 1851 — arrived in the city.
In the U.S. the two most famous celebrations are the parades in Boston and New York.
John “Wacko” Hurley has helped organize the Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade for a half-century and has been its lead organizer for the past two decades.
The New York parade dates back to 1766 and is one of the city’s oldest annual traditions. It was originally organized by military units before falling upon the shoulders of Irish fraternal clubs in 1811.
A few years back the New York St. Patrick’s Day parade counted 150,000 participants. That’s marchers alone, not spectators. The people lining the parade route and watching on TV numbered in the millions.
And of course there’s Ireland. Surprisingly Ireland held a disappointing, lackluster St. Patrick’s Day celebration until recently. It wasn’t until 1996 that Dublin, inspired by the success of fanfare overseas, held it’s first major St. Patrick’s Day festival. Amazingly, that first crowd numbered over 400,000. Today the festival has grown to six full days of activities, and visitors to the festival number over a million.
Wherever you celebrate today, there’s a good chance you’re a stone’s throw away from an Irish pub.
And if not, you can always go throw cabbage at someone.
Let us know how that goes!