St. Patrick's Day in the USA

On March 17th, America turns green: St. Patrick's Day comes with parades, theme parties, and gallons of dyed beer. Learn about the Irish tradition in the USA and where to spend St. Patrick's Day in the United States in 2022.

Origin of St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day was originally a religious celebration in honor of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. In Ireland, the day was traditionally celebrated quietly within the family circle.

With the Irish immigrants, St. Patrick's Day came to the United States and, following the American motto "bigger is better," developed into one of the most popular holidays in the USA.

St. Patrick's Day has many nicknames in the States and is often called "Paddy's Day," "St. Paddy's," "St. Patty's," or simply "St. Patrick's" for short. If you ask an actual Irish person, they will probably give you "Paddy's Day" as the only acceptable shortcut.

St. Patrick's Day in the USA

Why wear green on "Paddy's Day"?

On the Irish national holiday, Americans dress in green - either from head to toe or at least as a piece of clothing. Even food and drinks are served in garish green, thanks to food coloring.

The origins of this tradition are said to lie in the Irish Rebellion of 1798, during which wearing shamrocks and green clothing became a symbol of national identity.

Shamrocks and leprechauns on St. Patrick's Day

The three-leaf clover (also called the "shamrock") is the unofficial national symbol of Ireland, and no St. Patrick's Day decoration should be without it. From shamrock glasses to shamrock-shaped floats on the countless St. Patrick's Day parades, you'll see it a lot on March 17th.

You'll also encounter a green-clad goblin in many places: the Leprechaun. He is a creature of Irish mythology who is said to guard the gold at the end of the rainbow.

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day in the USA

In the United States, St. Patrick's Day is celebrated not only in bars and Irish pubs but everywhere on the streets. Thus, spectacular parades, events, and Irish-themed parties take place in various US cities.

If you are looking for the best event on St. Patrick's Day, you might want to visit the Irish strongholds of the USA: Boston, New York, and Chicago!

However, many other cities such as New Orleans in the US state of Louisiana, San Antonio in Texas, or Philadelphia in Pennsylvania also have great parades and events. Depending on the city, the annual St. Patrick's Day celebrations sometimes begin in early March and culminate between March 17th and March 20th.

Visit the USA for St. Patrick's Day
Do you want to visit Chicago, New York, or Boston on St. Patrick's Day? Then book your trip here - and don't forget to apply for your ESTA!

St. Patrick’s Day in New York

New York's St. Patrick's Day parade is the largest and one of the most historic parades in America. The gigantic procession along Fifth Avenue takes about five hours to pass by the approximately 2 million spectators.

Save the date: The St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York always takes place on March 17th, unless that day falls on a Sunday. If so, the parade is moved to the 16th.

St. Patrick’s Day in Boston

In Boston, the "Irish capital of the USA," around 23 % of the population is descended from Irish immigrants. Therefore, the city proudly organizes a big parade every year, with about one million spectators lining the streets of Boston.

Save the date: The big celebration in South Boston will take place on March 20th this year. The parade starts at 1 p.m.

St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago

Chicago in Illinois is known for a special St. Patrick's Day spectacle: since 1962, the water of the Chicago River has been dyed bright green a few days before St. Patrick's Day.

Thousands of spectators gather in the city every year to watch this event and the following parade. This year, the color show in Chicago took place on March 12th.

St. Patrick's Day in Chicago

St. Patrick’s Day in San Antonio

San Antonio in Texas turns the river green just like Chicago, but the color lasts much longer here because of the slow-moving San Antonio River. Along the banks, the crowd goes wild when the legendary St. Patrick's Day River Parade strides along the two-and-a-half-mile promenade.

Save the date: This year, the San Antonio River will be colored twice: March 17th, and 19th, both at 1 p.m. The parade is yours to admire on March 19th, starting at 4 p.m.

St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah

Even in Savannah in the state of Georgia, green water flows around St. Patrick's Day - at least in the city fountain. Moreover, the St. Patrick's Day parade in Savannah is one of the largest in the United States. More than 400,000 people take part every year.

Save the date: This year, the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Savannah kicks off at 10:15 a.m. on March 17th.

St. Patrick’s Day in Ohio

Miami University, located in Oxford, Ohio, is the founder of the legendary "Green Beer" tradition. Students kick off their spring break festivities with the colored swill - a one-of-a-kind party you should not miss.

Save the date: "Green Beer Day" in Ohio is celebrated annually on the Thursday before Miami University's spring break and thus will be held on March 17th this year.

St. Patrick’s Day in Pittsburgh

The St. Patrick's Day parade in Pittsburgh attracts 500,000 spectators every year, and visitors get a very special treat: From 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., the Pittsburgh Police Department officially turns a blind eye to alcohol consumption on public streets. This is an absolute no-go almost everywhere else in the USA. This year, the St. Patrick's Day group booze-up in Pittsburgh hits on March 12th.

St. Patrick's Day fun facts

You probably didn't know these stunning facts about St. Patrick's Day in the USA:

  • The actual color of St. Patrick is not green but blue.
  • According to an old tradition, if you don't wear green clothes on St. Patrick's Day, you may be pinched by everyone.
  • Wearing green clothes makes you invisible to leprechauns. At least that's what an old Irish belief says.
  • St. Patrick's Day ranks 4th among the days with the most alcohol consumed in the United States - after New Year's Eve, Christmas, and the 4th of July.
  • The first St. Patrick's Day parade was not held 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's seven times the current population of Ireland.
  • St. Patrick is not a native of Ireland. He is believed to have been born in Roman Britain in the late 4th century.
  • According to an Irish legend, the saint's first name was not Patrick at all but Maewyn. It was after he was ordained a priest and called himself Patricius.

Do you want to learn more about American holidays? Then our facts and figures about Easter in the USA and Independence Day are sure to delight you!

Green Card CheckAre you eligible?