St. Patrick’s Day is widely celebrated in the U.S. and Ireland, of course. But did you know it’s a big deal in other countries?
The two biggest St. Patrick’s Day parades are in New York City and Dublin. After that is the one in Manchester, the English city with the largest Irish population (outside of London). It’s home to a two-week long Irish festival leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, including the parade, an Irish market, and demonstrations on Irish history and culture.
There are a few thousand people of Irish descent in the Norwegian capital city of Oslo, which is more than enough for a parade. Its centerpieces are an Irish pipe band and an actor dressed as St. Patrick riding in a horse-drawn carriage driven by a chauffeur wearing a red beard.
The biggest Irish celebration in Italy is the Festa Islandese (“Irish Festival”) in Florence. One might think St. Patrick’s Day is a raucous holiday in the U.S., but this one lasts for ten days and attracts thousands to a huge tent, where they’re served potato soup, beef cooked in Guinness, and Guinness.
St. Patrick’s Day falls almost exactly between Oktoberfests, so in the German region of Bavaria, it serves as a mini-Oktoberfest to hold everybody off for six months. Held by the German-Irish Society of Bavaria since 1996, it’s the biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in mainland Europe. (It also celebrates Irish and Scottish cultures.) There’s dancing, live concerts, a parade, and, of course, plenty of beer.
In the Caribbean
St. Patrick’s Day is an official government holiday in only three place around the world: Ireland, in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador (where nearly a quarter of the population is of Irish descent), and Montserrat, the 39-square-mile British-controlled island in the Caribbean. Occupied by European settlers since the 1630s, the first big wave of settlers to Montserrat were Irish. The day is legal holiday for residents, and it’s also an observance of an unsuccessful uprising by slaves against Irish farmers in 1768.