What do Americans do differently?

We go full-on green!  Our own full-on Americanism of St. Patrick’s Day means the USA becomes green for a day (or 3). The Irish would never add green dye to their beer, create green foods such as milkshakes, and definitely never go so far as to dye a river green as they do in Chicago.

We eat corned beef and cabbage. The Irish are more likely to eat a great piece of lamb or homemade fish pie, and they eat colcannon — a buttery mash with cabbage mixed into it, rather than the corned beef and cabbage that is a feature here.



There are leprechauns everywhere. However, the cobblers of the fairy world were quite honorary and not the cute little green man we now associate with leprechauns. Leprechauns are actually one reason you’re supposed to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day — or risk getting pinched! The tradition is tied to folklore that says wearing green makes you invisible to leprechauns, who like to pinch anyone they can see.



The shamrock may be one of the most prolific symbols of Ireland. Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, returned to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity. The shamrock, or three-leaf clover, represents the holy trinity: the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. The shamrock has three leaves — not the four-leaf clover we see in marketing here.

We enjoy much revelry. Aside from turning everything green, we bring in bagpipes and party like we’ve never partied before. Until 1996, the Irish didn’t really celebrate St. Patrick’s Day outside of family gatherings with a good meal. From 2000, they began to include more parades and festivities. Those are mainly for the tourists looking for a good party. In Dublin especially there are now parades and much partying at the ubiquitous Irish pubs.




All of the parties and celebrations in the USA came about because of our large Irish population, all looking for a reason to celebrate their origins. The Irish, like no other nation, have successfully exported their national day. The proliferation of Irish pubs and Guinness beer have made it a marketing bonanza. Green is everywhere right now.


In short, we have created our own version of St. Patrick’s Day. Maybe we have created our own version of an International Day, celebrating the mix of people that make up America.



Patron saint of Ireland

Of course, we shouldn’t forget the reason for all this partying. Saint Patrick, who lived during the fifth century, is the patron saint of Ireland. Born in Roman Britain, he was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave at the age of 16. He later escaped, but returned to Ireland, bringing Christianity to its people.




Photos courtesy of Jo Ames

Jo Ames

I’m Jo, an international photographer, working in Europe and the USA, with over 12 years of experience. I have always been passionate about photography, since the age of 5 when I picked up a camera to capture an amazing sunset. I moved to Cornelius 6 years ago and I’m loving life here. I love to empower my clients by freeing up their time and creating more confidence in themselves through the creation of on-brand, tailored images that truly represent their brand.  “I’m all about You.”




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