5 St. Patrick’s Day Traditions Explained

Emily DeAngelis, Staff Writer

St. Patty’s Day, while here in Northeast Pennsylvania we celebrate with Irish potatoes, the wearing of the green and plenty to drink, around the globe St. Patrick’s Day is met with a wide variety of custom.

  1. River Dying: A 40-year-old tradition in Chicago turns the city very green- literally. By using an eco-friendly dye, the Chicago River is dyed green during the celebrations. In years previous, it has taken days for the river to return to its natural color. Today, however, the dye only lasts about five hours but still manages to bring in over 400,000 spectators. The North White House Fountain also follows a similar pursuit.
  2. The Bagpipes: While undoubtedly a time-honored element to most St. Patrick’s Day parade, behind the scenes there remains debates over the legitimacy of the pipes. While Highland pipes are traditionally used in St. Patrick’s Day parades around the world, these pipes are actually of Scottish origin. However, the real pipes of Ireland, Uileann pipes, can only be played while seated making them difficult to integrate into marching parades. Furthermore, the Highland pipes have a heartier and louder quaintly that we now associate with the holiday and it’s festivities.
  3. World’s Shortest Parade: In Hot Spring’s National Park, Arkansas, all 98 feet of the World’s Shortest Street, Bridge Street, are packed with St. Patty’s Day festivities! The parade is famed to host over 100 Elvis impersonators, and this year the celebration is going to be kicked off by a performance of growing country stars, The Swon Brothers.
  4. Focus on history: Although Boston, Massachusetts is home to our nation’s largest Irish population, their celebrations are limited to the traditional parade, bagpipes and drinking. Sharing the same date of celebration is Evacuation Day, when the British troops evacuated Boston during the Revolutionary War. Used as a safe word of passage through the city by early colonists, “St. Patrick,” proves their deep Irish roots.
  5. Everyone turns Irish on St. Patty’s Day: While here in the States, people pretend to become Irish for a brief 24 hours, Ireland is quite the opposite. Their parades celebrate the multitude of nationalities in their country, including Polish and Welsh. Fun fact, the real St. Patrick wasn’t Irish either.