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St. Patrick’s Day Parades go global

by cynthia yoo | March 16, 2008 at 10:43 pm | 799 views | 18 comments

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I’ve been told that the Irish have wanderlust in the blood.  And that they take their Guinness with them.

Even in the more remote corner of the world you’re guaranteed to find a decent Irish pub. (Playing Marley’s G-Hits, don’t ask why.) 

Not that Omotesando in Tokyo counts as a far-flung locale.  It’s more like the epicentre of Nippon-chic, and it also hosts Japan’s most popular St. Patrick’s Day parade. (Yes, there’s more than a few!)

On March 17, people all over the world will be join the Irish to celebrate
Saint Patrick’s Day, the death of their patron saint. Cities like New York
and Boston will have large parades in which shamrocks, leprechauns and
the colour green will predominate. Chicago will even dye its river green.
No matter where you are, on Saint Patty’s Day you will see the colour green
worn more than on any other day of the year. The “wearing of the green,”
the national colour of Ireland, has become a way for people anywhere in
the world to connect with Ireland.

That tradition is also upheld here in Tokyo and every year you can watch and participate in the parade on Omote Sando. The Tokyo parade is organized by the Irish Network Japan (INJ) and was first held in 1992 with the support of the then Irish Ambassador to Japan, Mr. James Sharkey. Various dignitaries from many countries participate in the parade including the deputy prime minister of Ireland Mary Hearney in 2001.

St. Paddy’s day parade is also an event in the Korean calendar.  It makes sense as Koreans are dubbed “The Irish of the East.”  That moniker comes from the observation that Koreans are no less avid drinkers and singers of sad songs than their Gaelic brethren.

And apparently, the Korean B-Boys were the big hit in this year’s parade. Here’s a link to the photo.

But let us remember that today’s celebration of the patron saint of the Irish, do not solely revolve around excessive consumption of Gaelic stouts.  The following excerpt recounts some of the history and folklore surrounding the holiday.


The First Parade

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17, his religious feast day
and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have
observed this day as a religious holiday for thousands of years.

On St. Patrick’s Day, which falls during the Christian season of
Lent, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning
and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the
consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink, and
feast—on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.

first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place not in Ireland, but in the
United States. Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched
through New York City on March 17, 1762. Along with their music, the
parade helped the soldiers to reconnect with their Irish roots, as well
as fellow Irishmen serving in the English army.

Over the next thirty-five years, Irish patriotism among American
immigrants flourished, prompting the rise of so-called “Irish Aid”
societies, like the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick and the Hibernian
Society. Each group would hold annual parades featuring bagpipes (which
actually first became popular in the Scottish and British armies) and

No Irish Need Apply

Up until the mid-nineteenth century, most Irish immigrants in
America were members of the Protestant middle class. When the Great
Potato Famine hit Ireland in 1845, close to a million poor, uneducated,
Catholic Irish began to pour into America to escape starvation.
Despised for their religious beliefs and funny accents by the American
Protestant majority, the immigrants had trouble finding even menial
jobs. When Irish Americans in the country’s cities took to the streets
on St. Patrick’s Day to celebrate their heritage, newspapers portrayed
them in cartoons as drunk, violent monkeys.

However, the Irish soon began to realize that their great numbers
endowed them with a political power that had yet to be exploited. They
started to organize, and their voting block, known as the “green
machine,” became an important swing vote for political hopefuls.
Suddenly, annual St. Patrick’s Day parades became a show of strength
for Irish Americans, as well as a must-attend event for a slew of
political candidates. In 1948, President Truman attended New York City
‘s St. Patrick’s Day parade, a proud moment for the many Irish whose
ancestors had to fight stereotypes and racial prejudice to find
acceptance in America.

Wearing of the Green Goes Global

Today, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by people of all backgrounds
in the United States, Canada, and Australia. Although North America is
home to the largest productions, St. Patrick’s Day has been celebrated
in other locations far from Ireland, including Japan, Singapore, and

In modern-day Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day has traditionally been a
religious occasion. In fact, up until the 1970s, Irish laws mandated
that pubs be closed on March 17. Beginning in 1995, however, the Irish
government began a national campaign to use St. Patrick’s Day as an
opportunity to drive tourism and showcase Ireland to the rest of the
world. Last year, close to one million people took part in Ireland ‘s
St. Patrick’s Festival in Dublin, a multi-day celebration featuring
parades, concerts, outdoor theater productions, and fireworks shows.


March 16, 2008 at 10:43 pm by cynthia yoo, 799 views, 18 comments

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We had a wonderful St. Patrick’s parade in downtown, Seoul, Korea on Saturday, March 15, 2008. All of us faked to be Irish for St. Patty’s!

youngdoo has contributed a photo to this story.

Did you head to an Irish Pub in Itaewon afterwards?

NowPublic contributor, Maireid Sullivan put up a timely post on “A Confident New Ireland.”

A marcher in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in front of Seoul’s Cheonggye Stream takes on the role of St. Patrick himself.

ecorn has contributed a photo to this story.

Snapshot from the St. Patrick’s Day parade at London, 2008.

Gkriniaris has contributed a photo to this story.

The somewhat unusual parade was followed by an incredible B-Boy performance, all for the pleasure of the public.

jcd3nt0n has contributed a photo to this story.

This was taken on March 9, 2008 from the Chicago neighborhood Beverly’s Southside Irish Parade. The view is from the 93XRT Chicago’s float. See more crowd shots at

cubsnumber10 has contributed a photo to this story.

Finagle A Bagel is a company that was founded in Faneuil Hall Marketplace in 1982 as Julian’s Cheesecakes Inc.

Julian’s sold cheesecakes for eight years. In 1990, looking for something to do with the excess cream cheese..

Julian’s Cheesecakes began selling bagels.

The bagels sold better than the cheesecakes and Finagle a Bagel was born.

Was in Boston over the weekend, and they were serving green bagels to celebrate the St. Patty’s Day festivities that were going on all over the city.

J.D. Fielding has contributed a photo to this story.

A female bagpiper in the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade (not on St. Patrick’s Day, though.)

Timothy State has contributed a photo to this story.

These 2 leprechauns were cavorting round Trafalgar Square during the St Patrick’s Day celebrations in London.

garryknight has contributed a photo to this story.

My friend and I happened upon a bagel place called Breuggers in Boston on parade day. I said, “What’s different about those bagels there? …Other than that they’re green.”

mollyawesome has contributed a photo to this story.

Despite the raw, wet conditions, South Boston was packed with revellers for the annual St Patrick’s Day Parade.

minutemen1775 has contributed a photo to this story.

Its customary that public officials participate in parades like this one. This group has Senator Dick Durbin,(first one on the left) and Mayor Daley, (third one from the left)

Pics2102 has contributed a photo to this story.

Even Rory the Chocolate Labrador enjoyed taking part in St Patrick’s Day celebrations. It’s was hard work though and wore him out!

Mrs Magic has contributed a photo to this story.

St. Patrick’s day is a wonderful green day!

G.I Joe Headquarters has contributed a photo to this story.

Lovely girl with the green-white-orange colored Irish hat. On St. Patrick’s Day, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

JasonWu has contributed a photo to this story.

The photo of this lovely young irish girl was taken in Leicester Square during the St Patrick’s Day in London.

ricofqm has contributed a photo to this story.

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