St. Patrick's Day in the USA

Green, greener, St. Patrick's Day! Decorations, clothing, food and even entire rivers – on March 17th, all of America radiates the color of luck! Every year, the whole country celebrates the contribution of the Irish to the history and culture of the United States with parades, Irish motto parties and a large dose of cheerfulness.

The origin of St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day was originally a religious celebration in honor of the patron saint of Ireland. In Ireland, the holiday named after him was traditionally celebrated rather quietly and in the circle of the family.

Irish immigrants brought St. Patrick's Day to the USA. And true to the American motto "bigger is better," the holiday of St. Patrick greatly changed over the course of time. Today, it is a festive and popular event with many highlights that Americans and travelers alike love to gather for.

Why does everyone wear green?

Everyone in the US is dressed in green from head to toe for the Irish national holiday, or at least wears a green garment. And even the decorations, food and drinks feature the color of luck. What many don't know, however: the actual color of St. Patrick was not green, but blue!

Yet the three-leafed green clover is not only the national symbol of Ireland, but also reminds us of St. Patrick. And, since Ireland is also known as the "green island" and the color green is also part of the Irish flag, it has become accepted over time.

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day in the USA

In the United States, St. Patrick's Day is not only celebrated behind the closed doors of bars and Irish pubs. Americans prefer to go out on the streets to take part in the celebrations. There are numerous parades, events and Irish motto parties in various cities.

Which American cities are the best places to celebrate St. Patrick's Day? We take you on a tour of the "Irish strongholds" in the USA:

  • Chicago: The city of Chicago in Illinois is known for a special St. Patrick's Day spectacle. Since 1962, the waters of the Chicago River have been dyed deep green on St. Patrick's Day. Thousands of spectators usually gather on the banks to watch the scene unfold.
  • New York: The New York St. Patrick's Day parade is not only the largest, but also one of the most long-standing parades in America. It was first held in 1762, 14 years before the birth of the United States. The parade along Fifth Avenue takes about 5 hours to pass by the approximately two million spectators.
  • Boston: About 23% of the population of Boston, the "Irish capital of the USA," are the descendants of immigrants from Ireland. Full of pride, the city of Boston therefore organizes a large parade every year, with around one million spectators lining the city streets.
  • Savannah: Green water also flows in Savannah, Georgia, on St. Patrick's Day. However, the southern metropolis concentrates entirely on "greening" the city fountains. The St. Patrick's Day parade in Savannah is also one of the largest in the United States. More than 400,000 people take part year after year.
  • Oxford: Miami University, located in Oxford, Ohio, maintains a very special tradition. Since 1952, St. Patrick's Day is also known as Green Beer Day here. The idea behind it is quite simple: green food color is added to the beer (which is, of course, sold in large quantities on this day). This is also how the students open their Spring Break festivities.
  • Pittsburgh: The Pittsburgh parade first took place in 1869 and attracts about 500,000 spectators every year. By the way, from 2 to 5:30 pm, the Pittsburgh Police Department officially turns a blind eye to alcohol consumption on public streets. And of course, residents and tourists alike usually take full advantage of this temporary opportunity.

And St. Patrick´s Day 2021?

Before Corona, there were about 100 parades in the USA. Due to the pandemic, the usual events for St. Patrick's Day 2021 are not yet possible again. Events with densely packed crowds are out of the question for the time being.

However, the mayor of Chicago decided to surprise the residents of her city with some normalcy and had the Chicago River dyed green already in the early morning hours of March 14th.

This 50-minute video shows the dyeing of the floodwaters in full and brings a touch of American St. Patrick's Day home to your living room. Sit back and look forward to next year!

Fakten rund um den St. Patrick's Day

Your thirst for knowledge about St. Patrick's Day is not yet satisfied? Here are a few more exciting facts about March 17th:

  • St. Patrick's Day is the number four of the days on which the most alcohol is consumed in the USA - after New Year's Eve, Christmas, and July 4th.
  • The first St. Patrick's Day parade was not celebrated in Ireland, but in Boston in 1737.
  • The North Fountain of the White House has been dyed green for St. Patrick's Day every year since 2009.
  • More than 34 million Americans have Irish roots. That is 7 times the current population of Ireland.
  • St. Patrick is not a native of Ireland! According to a lore, he was born towards the end of the 4th century in Roman Britain.
  • Another Irish legend has it that the saint's first name was not Patrick but Maewyn. Only after he was ordained a priest, he is said to have called himself Patricius.