In addition to other amazing holidays, St. Patrick’s Day seems to be one of the biggest festive days here in the US. I’m not sure how and when it started to become big, but ever since Americans like to celebrate anything Irish on the memorable day of March 17th.
St. Paddy’s Day (or St. Patty’s day, depending on where you are) is culturally speaking one of the more innocent days to celebrate. It’s not bound to religion, such as Christmas. It’s not necessarily bound to national pride, such as 4th of July. It’s moreover a connection people feel to their Irish roots. But even if you’re not Irish – you’re supposed to dress all in green and celebrate. Of course it involves lots of drinking – especially green beer and shots. However, parades are as equally fun to watch when you are sober. From things such as wearing the right kind of green over where to find the best beer and shot special in town to devouring proper donuts – things can become quite insane here in America.
My Irish friend once told me that even though Dublin should be the center of festivities, celebrating St. Patrick’s day in New York is a way bigger deal. At least in his opinion. “In Ireland, People are drunk in pubs at noon and that’s about the height of it all” he claimed, while keeping his eyes glued to the magnificent dresses, flags, and fanfare at the 5th Avenue parade. Perhaps it’s true that there is a bit more diversity in this city of 8 million. After all, if you hit Manhattan mid-day, you won’t be able to dodge the green masses and drunken teens and twens. Some come from all over the country, but the majority is most likely from Jersey and Pennsylvania.
I remember first getting here and two days later it was St. Paddy’s day. I did not make it to the parade but I certainly joined the crowd at the next pub. Especially Lower Manhattan can get quite insane.
In 2011, I was actually in Boston around March 17th. I left with the odd impression that the party is way bigger there, since it’s the epitome of American Irishness. People were certainly not sober the weekend prior. And Shamrock shakes were offered everywhere I went…
In 2012 Irish day fell on a Saturday! Boy, was the city packed. Even though my friends and I did not party too much, we were lured into almost every pub in the East Village by drunken Jersey guys.
A year later it was a Sunday so of course people were quite drunk all weekend long, too.
Yesterday I actually did not celebrate at all. I stayed in Brooklyn all the time and somehow I managed to evade the crowds, even though I was at a bar. It wasn’t an Irish bar and perhaps that was a good thing. I still got a green sticker to glue on any body part I wanted (I chose my arm). So I can assure you that if you really don’t feel in the mood for Irish day, you can certainly go ahead and ignore it in a city this big.
The Parade is pretty nice, compared to other parades throughout the year. Usually, March 17th is a relatively mild day. Spring has sprung and people want to finally dance and laugh outside again. So it’s a gathering of everyone and everything and then of course the great traditional costumesm silly hats and music, which can’ be amiss. Yes, the parade is fun to watch. If you go further uptown, you won’t stand in the masses and get all annoyed.
In Germany, St. Patrick’s Day was almost a joke compared to what I’ve experienced here. True, why celebrate if there is no Irishness in our culture? The pubs only offered special drink deals if they were close to American military posts and knew that Americans would be frequenting their establishment…
Do you celebrate St. Paddy’s Day? How do the celebrations look in your country?