How 6 Asian Countries Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

What started as a Irish religious holiday in 1631 is now a reason for celebration in various parts of Asia.

Due in part to the spread of Irish expatriates, St. Patrick’s Day is now recognized around the world in Singapore, South Korea, India, China, Japan and Malaysia.

The day commemorates the death of Saint Patrick, a missionary and bishop from the fifth century. He is known for introducing Christianity to different areas of Ireland, according to Britannica.

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  • This special day, which occurs on March 17, became an official public holiday in Ireland in 1903.
  • Activities held during this festive day include attending street parades and parties, making Irish soda bread and drinking plenty of beer.
“St Patrick’s Day Parade 2012. 表参道 (Omotesandou, Tokyo, Japan).” Photo by Toru Watanabe via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Singapore

The Lion City celebrates St. Patrick’s Day over the course of several days.

  • On the eve of March 17, an annual St. Patrick’s Day Ball is held. Singapore’s St. Patrick’s Society, which was established in 1925, hosts this event and features live music, unlimited alcohol, raffles and more.
  • On March 17, during the Singapore St. Patrick’s Day Parade — which is rumored to be the largest celebration in Southeast Asia — participants wear green, sing and dance in the streets.
  • The following day, people throw parties, festivals and concerts in various places such as restaurants and Irish pubs.
  • Popular menu items from these places include: shepherd’s pie, Guinness pie, fish and chips and bangers and mash.
  • To make the holiday even more festive, the Singapore River is dyed green.
“Korean dancer lights up the festival. St Patrick’s Day in Seoul South Korea 2009.” Photo by ~Mers via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

South Korea

  • St. Patrick’s Day in this country is mostly celebrated in Seoul, the country’s capital.
  • The Irish Association of Korea (IAK), which first started hosting events in 2001, runs an outdoor festival filled with Irish food, tons of beer, raffle prizes, face painting, a costume contest, live entertainment and more.
  • Popular menu items from Irish bars in South Korea include: corned beef and cabbage, green beer and plenty of Guinness.
  • IAK’s event has been sponsored by British Airways and Guinness, and thousands of people attend it every year.
  • After celebrating with IAK, many festivalgoers flock to after-parties in Itaewon, a cosmopolitan district of Seoul.

China

Different places throughout the country commemorate St. Patrick’s Day.

  • Various Chinese landmarks, from the Great Wall of China to Guangzhou’s Canton Tower, turn green for the holiday.
  • Shanghai, which is home to more than 200,000 expatriates from around the world, celebrates St. Patrick’s Day with several parades and feasts.
  • Popular drinks sold in Shanghai for the holiday include: Jameson whiskey, Irish Car Bombs and green beer.
  • One of Shanghai’s annual St. Patrick’s Day events is its St. Patrick’s Day Ball, which was held in Pudong Shangri-La Hotel last year.
“Saint Patrick’s Day in Motomachi street, Yokohama, Japan.” Photo by Kounosu via Wikimedia Commons ( CC BY-SA 3.0)

Japan

St. Patrick’s Day parades can be found in various regions of Japan.

  • One of the most popular parades is Tokyo’s St. Patrick’s Day parade on Omotesando Avenue, which brings together more than 50,000 people to the streets to celebrate.
  • This popular parade was first organized by the Irish Network Japan (INJ) in 1992 to introduce Irish culture to the Japanese.
  • Since then, participants have become more creative with their parade attire — some attend as leprechauns, while others combine Irish costumes with traditional Japanese stylized dress.
  • During this holiday, various kinds of Irish drinks can be found at pubs, such as: Guinness, Kilkenny, Magners cider, Jameson whiskey, Marstons’ Oyster Stout and matcha green tea beer.
“St Patrick’s Day Parade 2012. 表参道 (Omotesandou, Tokyo, Japan).” Photo by Toru Watanabe via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

India

Since St. Patrick’s Day typically occurs around Holi, many Indians end up celebrating the holiday to continue spreading the festive cheer, according to WeTravel.

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  • Like other famous landmarks around the world, the Gateway of India turns green.
  • Irish pubs spread throughout cities such as Mumbai become crowded with people from around the world who come together to drink, listen to live music and eat.
  • Some popular menu items include: boxty (fried potato pancakes), colcannon (creamy mashed potato), Irish soda bread, shepherd’s pie and Irish stew.

Malaysia

Asia’s largest St. Patrick’s Day party can be found in Malaysia.

  • The St. Patrick’s Society of Selangor has organized special events since 1925, such as its St. Patrick’s Ball.
  • The event, which has been held at Kuala Lumpur’s Shangri-La Hotel for the past few years, is the biggest St. Patrick’s Day ball held outside of Ireland and the United States.
  • Food and drinks you can find at various Irish pubs in Malaysia on St. Patrick’s Day include: Guinness-infused food (such as Guinness Bailey’s ice cream floats and Guinness smoked beef ribs) and free flow Guinness.
“St Patrick’s Day Parade 2012. 表参道 (Omotesandou, Tokyo, Japan).” Photo by Toru Watanabe via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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