The one time of year where everyone comes together for some good beer while wearing the color green or a shirt that says this:
I have to admit though, I've never been in Massachusetts during St. Patrick's Day because Mount Holyoke always schedules its Spring Break the week that St. Patrick's Day begins, so I've always been away from the nucleus of the St. Patrick's Day celebrations.
But's also important to take note of how people in the United Kingdom celebrate St. Patrick's Day differently.
So grab your shamrock shakes and pots of gold because St. Patrick's Day abroad goes way beyond our original Irish-American traditions:
1) Have an Understanding About Ireland's Relationship with the United Kingdom:
For those who don't know, Ireland – where the holiday, St. Patrick's Day originates from – is part of the British Isles in the United Kingdom, which can be a bit confusing because the United Kingdom is a "country of countries" which includes four equal and sovereign nations . . . in one country. If you can wrap your head around that.
If you want a quick geography lesson that explains the United Kingdom as a whole, click here.
It's a bit confusing, but you'll get a hang of it soon and it's especially helpful for those who are planning on living in the United Kingdom anytime soon.
All I will say quickly about the Ireland and the United Kingdom is this:
Ireland is NOT part of the United Kingdom.
To simplify it (and you can watch this on the link) there two very large islands known as the British Isles, seen below:
With me so far?
Now the island of Ireland, it has two countries: The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Meanwhile, on the island of Great Britain, it has three countries: England (where I am), Scotland and Wales.
The island of Ireland and Great Britain are two separate islands in the British Isles.
HOWEVER, the four countries, of Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales make up the United Kingdom (in yellow).
But The Republic of Ireland is not part of the United Kingdom (in orange).
It's just mostly referred to as Ireland even though that's the name of the whole island.
Anyway, there's more information about the United Kingdom on the link.
But despite the fact that Ireland is not part of the United Kingdom, a lot of Irish people live on the island of Great Britain and celebrate St. Patrick's Day.
And when I say celebrate, I mean . . . it's a holiday that's not exactly extravagant as you might expect it to be.
2) Partying on St. Patrick's Day is Never Wild:
For starts, St. Patrick's Day in Ireland is a Roman Catholic feast day. For many, it's a nice quiet holiday. But over the years the holiday started to evolve when Irish immigrants in the United States started to hold some of the first St. Patrick's Day Parades. The first largely public celebration of St. Patrick's Day took place in Boston in 1737 and it did not become a national holiday in Ireland until 1903. In fact, until the 1970s, pubs in Ireland were required by law to be closed on March 17th.
Eventually, the holiday caught on and then became this tinderbox of celebration, partying and drinking.
It turns out, the Irish did not invent the tradition of pinching people for not wearing green on St. Patrick's Day.
But guess who did?
The Irish Americans!
I mean, America is known for creating weird customs that don't quite make much sense.
For example, the 4th of July.
I'm not taking about the fireworks or the barbecues that happen on 4th of July, I'm taking about the tradition of turning on ESPN and watching the live broadcast of Nathan's Hotdog Eating Contest and airs every single 4th of July.
It's weird watching Joey Chestnut stuff 61 hotdogs in his face in under 10 minutes.
And yet, you want him to win.
Because that's how it is in America.
Real Americans eat 61 hotdogs in under 10 minutes.
And apparently pinch each other on St. Patrick's Day when someone decides not to wear green.
Okay, so why did we start pinching people for not wearing green?
Well, it turns out that revelers thought that wearing green made one invisible to leprechauns and other fairy creates who would pinch anyone they could see (anyone not wearing green). People began pinching those who didn't wear green as a reminder that leprechauns would sneak up and pinch green-abstainers.
Not so much in the UK.
Probably because . . .
4) Everyone Wears Blue On St. Patrick's Day:
Here in the UK, most true St. Patrick's Day revelers wear blue instead of green, because back in 1783, the Order of St. Patrick – an Anglo-Irish church – adopted blue as its official color which was then later used to be associated with Saint Patrick. It was only later in the 1790s when green would become associated with Irish nationalism, due to its usage by the people who lived in the Republic of Ireland.
So, word to the wise, don't go running up to people and pinching them in the UK for not wearing green on St. Patrick's Day. You'll make a lot of people very angry if you do.
You did indeed read that correctly.
To be more specific, The Shard in London is THE place to be on the evening of St. Patrick's Day. Every year they hold something called a silent disco party. If you do not know what a silent disco party is, it is when people dance to music on wireless headphones rather than dancing to a speaker system. The music is broadcast to the headphones worn by the participants in the room, so when you take off your headphones you realize that everyone around you is dancing to absolutely nothing.
But it's a big deal at The Shard. You start off the night with a Jameson with ginger ale and fresh limes before ascending to the top of the famous London landmark
Not to mention, the tickets to actually get into the place are rarer than a leprechaun's pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
But come on, you get to celebrate St. Patrick's Day with a view from the freak'n Shard!
Just bask in it's awesomeness!
Every year on the Sunday before St. Patrick's Day officially starts, a parade passes through Central London and a free festival in Trafalgar Square holds many special events.
From spectacular floats to Irish dancing schools, the free St. Patrick's Day celebration is a great chance to experience true Irish culture with an artisan Irish food market, comedy and film festivals filled with music and dancing.
So when you get a chance, head on down early and show off your Irish pride!
Whether you're Irish or not, pub crawling on St. Patrick's Day is the most fun that you can ever have!
So if you're the type of person who is out and about with a few good friends looking for some fun, the Irish pubs in London is the best place to immerse yourself into the Irish scene. Traditionally different and unique, you're sure to sample the best Guinness in the city with the friendliest bartenders in town.
So if you and your buddies are looking for a good Irish pub to release your inner Irish spirit here are a few pub recommendations that you should definitely hit up while you're in London:
The Auld Shillelagh
105 Stoke Newington Church Street,
London N16 0UD
O'Neill's Irish Pub & Kitchen Carnaby Street
37-38 Great Marlborough Street,
London W1F 7JF
14-16 Rupert Street,
London W1D 6DD
The Faltering Fullback
19 Perth Road,
London N4 3HB
So there's your St. Patrick's Day survival guide in London.
It might not be what you're used to in the states, but it might be even better than you expect it to be.
So I hope you all had a fun St. Patrick's Day back in the states.
And just remember, if you're coming over to the UK in the near future, try not to pinch anyone for not wearing green.