Top o’ the Morning and Lá Shona Fhéile Pádraig or Happy St. Patrick’s Day educational travelers!

Today, we celebrate one of the most joyous holidays in the calendar…St. Patrick’s Day! Always a cheerful time filled with Irish song, dance, and food, St. Patrick’s Day has long been a cultural and religious celebration. Wondering why it’s always celebrated on March 17? That’s the traditional date of when Ireland’s foremost patron saint, St. Patrick, passed. He traveled around Ireland spreading the word about Christianity during the 5th century. Nowadays, the holiday has evolved into a full celebration of all things Irish across the globe! From parades to green drinks and rivers dyed green, St. Patrick’s Day always makes for a good time. After all…it’s a day when we can all be Irish! So grab some green beads, don your best green attire, and put on a friendly Irish smile because I’m sharing with you some of the best places to take part in the festivities.

First up for you thirsty educational travelers is Ireland itself. Home to rolling hills of green and shamrocks, Ireland is synonymous with St. Patrick’s Day. However, did you know that the raucous celebrations of today are not reminiscent of the original celebrations for St. Patrick? In fact, we have the United States to thank for that as the lively happenings grew in popularity in the U.S. during the 1900s but more on that later. In Ireland, March 17 was marked as a holy day in remembrance of their patron saint who famously drove out the snakes all those years ago. Since 1631, it has been a religious feast day. A solemn time when Catholics went to church in the morning and ate in the afternoon. As the years progressed, more and more of the traditions spread to Ireland where they now hold one of the biggest gatherings in Dublin. If you plan your student tour just right, you might even get to partake in the festivities. The Emerald Isle also has so much more to offer. With an incredibly welcoming and friendly atmosphere, students and educators will feel right at home. Ireland has a rich history, breathtaking natural sites, castles galore, impressive architecture, and a music scene that will have your foot tapping and a smile on your face. Anyone who visits on an educational tour will realize that there’s so much more to this magical place than just St. Patrick’s Day celebrations! Heading across the ocean, the United States has some of the largest gatherings on this lucky day.

More than 10% of the population can trace their ancestry back to Ireland, so it’s no surprise that St. Patrick’s Day has been a big hit here. From Boston to New York and Chicago to St. Augustine, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations flood the streets. In 1766, New York held the first St. Paddy’s Day parade. What started as a small gathering of Irish soldiers has morphed into one of the largest parades in the world. Attracting some 3 million spectators who come to view the pipers, Irish dancers, floats, costumes, and performers, the New York City parade is one for the bucket list. St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Boston, however can be traced back to 1737 when a couple dozen Presbyterians who emigrated from northern Ireland wished to gather and honor St. Patrick. There has even been evidence unearthed showing that St. Augustine in Florida in fact held the first celebrations. Records were found indicating cannon blasts and gunfire were used to honor the saint in 1600! All across the country, cities pull those leprechaun shenanigans and dye their fountains and rivers green. Looking at you Chicago! The U.S. has long embraced March 17 as a holiday with each city and town offering up a unique take on this green day. There’s no doubt that your student tour will have the time of their life. The question is in what city will you celebrate? Maybe you fancy somewhere a little more exotic like Russia?!

Yes, it’s true even Russia has their own St. Patrick’s Day gatherings! In 1992, the capital of Moscow put together a small parade that has today garnered international attention and sponsors from Pepsi to Guinness! Traditional Irish pubs create and decorate their own floats while Irish Wolfhounds can be found parading the streets.

From Italy and Spain to Norway and Japan, the festivities. of St. Patrick’s Day have become an experience worthy of any student tour. Today, millions of people around the world bring the “luck of the Irish” into their lives and celebrate all things Irish. St. Patrick’s Day is a chance to share the history and rich culture of Ireland with the world! I hope you’ll join us on an EA student tour and experience one of these amazing celebrations yourself. I leave you with a traditional Irish blessing:

May the Irish hills caress you;

May her lakes and rivers bless you;

May the luck of the Irish enfold you;

May the blessings of St. Patrick behold you.