The Strangest Saint Patrick’s Day Traditions Around the World

To an outsider, your typical St. Patrick’s Day celebrations might look a little strange – shamrocks, the color green, leprechauns, and pots of gold. It’s all a little odd. However, those average St. Patrick’s Day symbols and traditions have nothing on these truly odd celebrations.

Dying the Chicago River Green

It’s one of the most well-known St. Patrick’s Day traditions. Each year, St. Patrick’s Day revellers take to Chicago’s downtown Loop area to dye the Chicago River–which cuts through the middle of the city–a deep, brilliant green. It’s a tradition that’s been going strong for more than 50 years, and it’s one that Chicagoans look forward to every time St. Patrick’s Day rolls around. The secret ingredient to the green dye? It’s actually a family-held secret, one that even the most dedicated event attendees don’t even know.

A Very Short St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Even if you live in a smallish city, your annual St. Patrick’s Day probably runs at least a few blocks. Not so in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where the magic lasts only one block. That’s right – Hot Springs’ Bridge Street, which runs a scant 98 feet long, is by some accounts the shortest street in the world, making it the perfect location for the world’s shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade. The actual event is as eclectic as its concept, with parade marchers dressed in wacky costumes and celebrities scheduled to host and perform.

Dublin for a Day

While you might think that Ireland’s capital, Dublin, goes big on St. Patrick’s Day, it might be New Dublin that takes the cake. If you haven’t heard of New Dublin, don’t be surprised, because it exists for only a day. Usually, the town is better known as New London, Wisconsin, but for one day each year (on, you guessed it, St. Patrick’s Day), the town becomes New Dublin, with locals dressed as leprechauns even changing the city sign! Along with the name change, the town celebrates with a parade, an Irish festival, and other small events throughout the city.

The World’s Biggest Shamrock

The shamrock, the three-leaf clover that’s come to symbolize Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day, is widely considered to be lucky. So, does that mean the bigger the shamrock, the greater the luck? Maybe that’s the logic in O’Neill, Nebraska, the “Irish capital of Nebraska,” where a ginormous, green, concrete shamrock adorns the intersection of 4th Street and Douglas, right in the middle of town. Apparently, the people of O’Neill are so serious about St. Patrick’s Day that they’re ready to celebrate it every day!

It’s Big in Japan

When you think about St. Patrick’s Day, you surely think of celebrations taking place in America, where there’s a large Irish population, and of course in Ireland. But did you know that the Japanese also celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Indeed, while you might not think it, Tokyo has hosted a St. Patrick’s Day celebration, complete with a parade and fun activities like face painting. Just goes to show that no matter where you go, people aren’t so different after all – especially when they’re celebrating something as fun as St. Patrick’s Day!

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