This article originally appeared on FreemanXP.com
St. Patrick's Day is an important cultural and religious date in the Irish calendar, and nowadays it is celebrated in communities and countries across the globe — by Irish expats, those of Irish descent, and by people who simply want to join in on the now infamous festivities.
Marking the death of the Patron Saint of Ireland, the occasion brings people together and further highlights the importance of events and our sector. The wider marketing industry also enjoys marking the occasion with clever campaigns in print or online. A standout campaign came from Branston Pickle in 2016, where they posted a photo of a cheese and pickle sandwich on Facebook, which was in the shape of a pint of Guinness.
Taking to the streets and public houses of London
The St. Patrick’s Day festival is a must-visit if you’re in London for the big day — this year it takes place on Sunday the 19th. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade sees members of the public line the streets from midday to watch Irish floats, sports clubs, dance organisations, marching bands and more set off from Piccadilly and traverse key London landmarks until they arrive at Trafalgar Square, where the celebrations continue.
The iconic central London outpost plays host to a day-long festival, where there is entertainment from Irish comedians, singers and bands. You can also expect an Irish-themed street food market serving dishes like Irish black pudding and scotch eggs, a tea tent and Irish community stalls.
Irish pubs across the capital dress their premises up in green paraphernalia on or before the 17th, and it’s not uncommon to see them spilling out with revelers celebrating in green party wear, waving Irish flags and sipping on the nation’s famous Guinness beer.
We spoke to two of our FreemanXP colleagues with Irish descent both living in the US, on how and why this occasion is celebrated from their unique perspective.
St. Patrick’s Day from an Irishman living in LA
St. Patrick's Day is a religious holiday in Ireland. It's celebrated with the closure of all businesses and with parades through the streets of all of the towns in the country. It has more of a religious connotation to it — Saint Patrick is reputed to have removed all of the snakes from Ireland and brought Christianity onto the island. This isn’t known to many, but Saint Patrick was actually English rather than Irish.
This day is celebrated big time in the United States, especially on the east coast in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, where many millions of Irish descendants reside today. It's more of a party here, hence the reputation for the partying Irish, but the roots of the celebration are religious.
Peter McGrath, SVP, Creative
Transforming the Chicago River into a green oasis
St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago is all about the color green. There is a huge parade on the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day. It starts on the south side of the city, where the traditional Irish community of Chicago is located and everything is green from the floats and the clothing people wear to the beer and food.
The main event surrounds the Chicago River, which gets dyed (you guessed it!) green. The local river boats that typically host city sightseeing tours spray green into the river and infuse the city with excitement. Locals head downtown to watch the river being dyed, and people travel in to the city all weekend to see the infamous green river. With so many tourists in town for the event, many bars and restaurants sell tickets to their own themed events. Many alcoholic beverage brands get involved too, by sponsoring ticketed events at bars and providing branded swag including pitchers, sunglasses, t-shirts, beads, and souvenir cups to revellers.
For those with more traditional Irish roots, St. Patrick’s Day is considered a family holiday to spend time together and celebrate over a huge Irish meal. In my family, more than 50 aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents get together to enjoy our grandma’s cooking. To top it off, we all wear matching shirts with the family crest on them from our Irish ancestors.