With the pandemic still rampant in most of Europe, traditional events and parades were moved online in order to prevent 2021’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations from spreading COVID-19.
This marks the second year in a row that the Irish – and most of the world – suspended their normal celebrations of draught Guinness and green illuminations, and instead booted up their computers to celebrate in a more confined fashion.
And being perhaps the most globalised national day in the world, it really is most of the world that celebrates St Patrick’s Day. As seen in the infographic below, this is how the 17th of March is usually celebrated according to Betway’s Insider blog; from Mumbai to Buenos Aires to Chicago, streets and rivers turn green and Irish history is celebrated.
Undoubtedly, the only silver lining of online events for a lockdown celebration is that the world can experience the same events together, instead of hosting localised celebrations. We saw around 670 sites in 66 different countries take part in Ireland’s Global Greening initiative in 2021, proving the appetite for celebration was still there despite the restrictions.
This was a powerful moment that transcended the national barriers we have seen so much of throughout the pandemic, proving its cultural importance. More than 100 virtual events took place on the SPF TV programme, all of which were free. Comedy, Irish food history, walking tours, poetry, and parades were some of the virtual events that took place.
This was a powerful moment that transcended the national barriers we have seen so much of throughout the pandemic
Irish broadcaster RTE’s virtual parade, which saw children pushing their toys and cars around gardens as opposed to high street gatherings, was applauded for its efforts to put on a spectacular virtual show - lifting spirits and making the best out of the situation. We also saw high viewing figures of more than 566,000 during the St Patrick’s Day Late Late Show, hosted by Ryan Tubridy.
For some, the call of the Irish was too strong. Even the pandemic couldn’t get in the way of Chicago’s grand tradition. The Chicago River was once again dyed bright green in celebration of St Patrick's Day in a surprise decision reversal by the city's mayor.
A green message from the President
President Higgins sent a message out to the Irish across the world, stating that St Patrick’s Day 2021 marks the “beginning of a new journey”. Higgins used this moment to inspire international solidarity and raise awareness of our environment.
“In the message we have received from COVID, surely there is the undeniable insight that we must all, and together, exit the fog of not only the pandemic but all of the hubris, the arrogance, the vanities of assuming the right to dominate, to impose, to exclude; strategies of life which have left us such a legacy of lost communality and a planet in danger.”
The celebrations may have been subdued, but there's no doubt that the spirit of St Patrick remains strong.