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  • The weirdest St Patrick’s Day customs

    Chicago River, photo by apanoply on Flickr

    St Patrick’s Day is pretty common as far as holidays go, or at least on the surface it is. Celebrating national heritage with parades, traditional music, green clothes and pints of (sometimes) beer is nothing out of the ordinary, but don’t let these customs fool you – there are many other St Paddy’s traditions that can turn March 17th into one of the quirkiest days of the year.

    Since St Patrick’s Day is celebrated everywhere in the world where there are Irish communities (and even in some places where it the holiday seems totally out of place, and all the more fun for it!). So if you are planning on celebrating St Paddy’s in style, check out some of the weirdest St Patrick’s Day customs you can find anywhere.

    Double parade in New York

    The St Patrick’s Day parade in New York is one of the largest and most festive in the world, thanks to the considerable number of Irish people living in the Big Apple, as well as the countless non-Irish fans of the holiday.

    But strangely enough, in Hoboken, New Jersey, less than half an hour from New York, there is another St Paddy’s parade…two weeks before St Patrick’s Day. Consider it as an introduction: you can watch traditional Irish dances, listen to music and check out the colorful parade two weeks before most of the world.

    St Paddy in small town America

    O’Neill, photo by Ammodramus

    The town of O’Neill in Nebraska is the official Irish capital of Nebraska, but you can notice that yourself when driving past the largest shamrock painted on the pavement that you can probably find anywhere.

    O’Neill takes St Patrick’s celebrations to a whole new level: in 2011 they repainted the huge shamrock at 4th and Douglas Street, serve corned beef and cabbage at the town’s diners, and even asked a hypnotist to perform at the event.

    Dying the river

    Chicago is proud of its Irish heritage, like many other cities in the English speaking world, but it is the only one that is so obvious about it – after all, dying a whole river green is bound to attract some attention! For over four decades, Chicago River is dyed green on March 17, all thanks to plumbers in the 60’s who saw that a substance poured into the river to detect illegal pollution turned into a fetching shade of green. The original dye was outlawed, and now vegetable dye is put into the river to turn the water to Irish green.

    Renaming your town

    Hoboken parade, photo by r0sss on Flickr

    Changing the name of a town just because of a holiday sounds crazy, but it happens every year without fail in New London, Wisconsin. The friendly local Shamrock Club (for residents of Irish descent) changes the town signs into New Dublin for the occasion of St Patrick’s Day, but that’s only part of the tradition – there’s also a fake traditional Irish wake, with all the merrymaking it entails.

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