What is St. Patrick's Day?
Rather than explain it in words, take a look at this short video on American English and Culture.
When is St. Patrick's Day?
Every year on March 17.
What is the meaning of St. Patrick’s Day in contemporary US?
Well a few of the major stereotypes of this holiday in the US are parades and drinking beer. While this is the predominant thought, St. Patrick's Day is also observed in schools and offices without parades or alcohol.
I am not sure how many Americans really know the meaning of St. Patrick's Day. The video below shares some of the history of St. Patrick's Day from Ireland.
How is St. Patrick's Day celebrated in American schools?
Firstly, there is no vacation for St. Patrick's Day if it falls on a weekday. Kids will attend school on March 17. Whether the 17th falls on a weekend or weekday, school kids may have activities or parties associated with the holiday. While some schools keep it as simple as wearing green, other schools or classes, depending on the teacher, will have the students decorate the classroom with symbols of the holiday and also share some foods that may be dyed green for the holiday.
Some of the symbols of St. Patrick's Day include: shamrocks, four leaf clovers, leprechauns, rainbows with a pot of gold,and green top hats. Students may decorate the room with pre-purchased decorations or be instructed to make their own out of art supplies and hang them around the classroom.
How is St. Patrick's Day celebrated in the office?
Wearing green is standard at work. Some may go out for lunch and eat some Irish foods, like cabbage and corned beef (if available) or have foods dyed green for the holiday. For instance, we used to have green tinted vanilla milkshakes. If it is after work, colleagues may go out to Irish pubs or bars for beers to celebrate. Beer choices may lean toward Irish brands in the US like Guinness, Murphy's, Kilkenny, etc. To acquaint yourself with this, check out this link. Remember, that drinking with colleagues should not focus on guzzling and getting drunk. Social drinking (walking around, sipping off the same drink and talking with others in the meantime) is preferred.
How is St. Patrick's Day celebrated in the community?
Is St. Patrick's Day the same in Ireland?
I doubt it. I have never been to Ireland to know the difference, but, the video below by the US Embassy in Dublin shows us how Americans have Americanified the holiday. And, of course, part of any good Americanification strategy is introducing gimmicks and commercialization.
Small talk and questions you can ask about St. Patrick's Day at work:
- Do you celebrate St. Patrick's Day?
- How do you celebrate it?
- Are there St. Patrick's Day parades nearby? I'd like to see one?
- Should we wear green to work on March 17?
- Wanna go for happy hour on St. Patrick's Day?
- What are Irish pubs in the area? What can I eat or drink there? (Some Irish Pubs are like restaurants and not bars.)
- What are some common Irish foods I can try?
Feel free to share your experiences as a foreigner in the US celebrating St. Patrick's Day in the US in the comments below.
Jennifer Kumar is the Managing Director of Authentic Journeys in Kochi, India helping Indians to mingle with more confidence in business situations with Americans.
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