St Patrick´s Day: is it national holiday?
St Patrick’s Day, a day to don something green and enjoy with friends, but is it a holiday? Or do you need to give your boss an excuse not to show up?
With all the cities that hold St Patrick Day festivities you would think it would be a national holiday in the US and wherever else you find the Irish diaspora, but alas it is not. St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is commemorated on 17 March as a public holiday there, but outside the Emerald Isle only in a few other places do workers have a day off.
Besides Ireland, both the Republic and Northern, the only other place that celebrates St Patrick’s Day as a true public holiday is Montserrat, “The Emerald Isle of the Caribbean.” But St Patrick is not the island’s patron saint, nor in Newfoundland and Labrador where provincial government employees get a day off.
Of the other places that call St Patrick their patron saint, including Nigeria and Puerto Rico, only some workers in Boston and Suffolk County get to kick back and enjoy the day, but it is not thanks to St Patrick. The public holiday celebrates Evacuation Day, commemorating when British troops were ousted from the city in 1776 during the Revolutionary War. Like most national and local public holidays in the United States, most workers still need to go about their daily business or find a way to get the day off.
St Patrick’s Day celebrations
Depending on where you live St Patrick Day festivities and parades take place on weekends around 17 March, usually Sunday.
The biggest celebrations in the US are held in Boston, Chicago, New York and Savannah. With the exception of Chicago, their strong Irish communities have been celebrating the canonized priest for two hundred plus years.
Chicago despite its large Irish population, only started an annual parade in 1956, but the city can pat itself on the back. A new ranking named Chicago the best place to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. Chicago also has the honor of starting the trend of dying rivers emerald green, starting in 1962, to match the color of those celebrating. After a two-year hiatus due to covid-19, the now environmentally friendly additive to the water is back.
The world’s largest St Patrick’s Day Parade
This year according to organizers New York’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade will be back in its full glory. In 2020 it was cancelled due to covid-19 and the virus forced the parade last year to be held virtually. Typically, around two million people come out to watch some 150,000 people march up Fifth Avenue. On 17 March the 260th event will take place once again.
The Parade in the “Hostess City of the South”
Savannah, Georgia will see its Saint Patrick’s Day Parade resume on Thursday 17 March for the first time since 2019, with the pandemic throwing a wrench in the works for the past two years.
The most Irish city in the US
Although not as big as New York, Boston has the largest percentage of its population claiming Irish ancestry. A full week of events will culminate on Sunday 20 March for the St Patrick's Day Parade in South Boston, locally known as "Southie". The massive parade will start at 1 pm and even though case numbers are down, given the unpredictability of covid-19 it will follow a shorter route this year.