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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Shamrockin’ around the world

THE biggest Irish celebration in the world, St Patrick’s Day, is just around the corner. While no one celebrates it quite like the Irish themselves, it doesn’t stop everyone else from trying.

Just for that one day on March 17, the whole world turns Irish, and people in different countries all mark the day in their own special way.

But no matter what the method, there is always a free-flow of Guinness to help keep that Irish spirit up!

In Dublin, Ireland, the celebrations begin a little early, on March 12. The whole city is involved, with over a million citizens participating in parades, carnivals, theatre and street performances, dances and treasure hunts – all accompanied by several pints of the famous black beer.

After all, this is the city where Guinness has been brewed for 250 years.

The five-day festivities reach their climax on the actual St Patrick’s Day, when everyone goes wild in a celebration of Irish culture and ‘craic’, which is Gaelic for ‘fun and good times’.

The city of New York, in the US, also has a large Irish community, and they celebrate St Patrick’s Day with no less fervour than the Irish. In fact, the Big Apple plays host to the largest and longest-running St Patrick’s Day parade in the world. Originally starting in the 1700s, the St Patrick’s Day parade in New York is a grand affair, showcasing a diverse selection of approximately 150,000 marchers comprising bands, firefighters, military and police groups, county associations as well as social and cultural societies, which in turn are cheered on by over two million spectators. Certainly New York City’s residents turn out en masse not just for the parade, but for a customary pint or two of Guinness at the 120 or so Irish pubs all across the city.

The St Patrick’s Day parade is also popular in Tokyo, Japan. The trendy Harajyuku area in central Tokyo comes alive on the eve of St Patrick’s Day onwards, with Irish and Japanese flags decorating the streets. Locals and foreigners alike take to the streets to join the parade, ride on floats, enjoy the street performances, dance, enjoy traditional Irish food such as corned beef and cabbage, enjoy a pint of Guinness Draught and generally have a blast.

A particular highlight of recent St Patrick’s Day celebrations is when the Tokyo Tower, an iconic silhouette of the city’s skyline which stands at 333 metres in height, is illuminated in green neon lights on March 16 in conjunction with this well-loved occasion.

With such an enthusiasm for the festival all over the world, it’s only natural that Malaysia jumps on the bandwagon.

For the last two years, St Patrick’s Day has been celebrated by Malaysians and visitors in true Irish fashion, complete with Guinness-infused food and sauces promotion at participating outlets nationwide, limited edition Guinness St Patrick’s collectibles and much more, leading up to not one, but two, Guinness St Patrick’s Day celebrations!

The first will be in 1 Utama Shopping Centre, Petaling Jaya, on March 13 and the second in Juru Auto City, Penang, on March 14. There will be musical performances, games and of course, Guinness Draught for that authentic Irish experience.


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