Celebrated annually across the globe on March 17, St Patrick's Day is one of the world's most popular celebrations. Its significance originates in Ireland as a Catholic feast day which celebrates Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. However, in more recent times, St Patrick's Day has taken on an altogether more global and secular significance, with St Patrick's Day celebrations being held around the world in various forms.
In the United States, people traditionally celebrate St Patrick's Day by wearing green garments, drinking alcohol that's been dyed green or indulging in other Irish themed activities. Many American cities put on St Patrick's Day parades, including Cleveland, Boston and Kansas City; however the largest St Patrick's Day Parade in the United States - and the world - is held in New York City and is said to be watched by over two million people.
The first St Patrick's Day Parade in New York City was held in 1766, when Irish soldiers marched through the city, and in 2006, more than 150,000 people marched in the St Patrick's Day Parade. Among those participating in the event were bands, members of the fire department, social and cultural clubs in the city, emigrant societies and military and police groups. Furthermore, prominent New York politicians, and those planning to run for office frequently appear in the St Patrick's Day Parade.
Organised by the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the St Patrick's Day Parade has attracted more than a little controversy in its time. For instance, the Ancient Order of Hibernians has often opted to appoint controversial Irish Republican figures as its Grand Marshall; what's more, the group recently banned gay and lesbian groups from participating in the parade. As a result of this, alternative St Patrick's Day parades, such as The Queens parade, have been organised by opposing groups; the Queens parade, for instance, is open to all groups who wish to march on St Patrick's Day.
But whatever parade you choose to go and see, New York City is truly the place to be on St Patrick's Day. With green bagels, green flowers, green hats and clothes a frequent sight on the day of the St Patrick's Day Parade, New Yorkers tend to frequent local Irish pubs and drink Irish beers and liquors in celebration of the festival, which now takes on both religious and secular significance.
And with plenty of affordable hotels in New York City to choose from, you won't be stuck for accommodation in the city if you choose to visit on St Patrick's Day. After all, how could you possibly resist the unique opportunity to eat a green New York bagel and drink a glass of dyed-green Guinness while basking in the emerald glow of the Empire State Building?