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St. Patrick’s Day in China Posted by on Mar 17, 2015 in Uncategorized

Ask 100 Chinese people on the street what holiday today is, and chances are maybe  – and I mean maybe – one person will know about St. Patrick’s Day. This traditional Irish holiday is celebrated on March 17th in countries all around the world. While it’s true that it isn’t exactly celebrated or known in China, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing going on. In fact, Hong Kong just had its first ever St. Patty’s Day parade over the weekend. Although Irish don’t even crack the Top 10 in terms of expat population in China, almost every major city here has an Irish pub of some sort. In Kunming where I currently live, there’s one just a 5-minute walk from my place – a blessing and a curse.

St. Patty’s Day celebrations in the US and even in Shanghai (2010).

While it’s a cultural and religious holiday in Ireland, people in other countries view it as an excuse to have a good time. On this day, people will wear green, attend a parade, and drink plenty of green beer and Irish whiskey. It’s best to drink Irish on St. Patty’s, so order up a tall glass of Guinness and a shot of Jameson. In America, a cocktail called an Irish Car Bomb is made with the above mentioned beer and whiskey plus Bailey’s Irish cream. Just don’t order this one in Ireland, though – the name evokes the country’s troubled past and is considered offensive.

Celebrating St. Pat's in China.

Celebrating St. Pat’s in China.

The biggest celebration goes on in the Irish capital of Dublin – four days of traditional music, folklore, and dance. There are huge events in cities all over the world, though, including Chicago, Buenos Aires, Montreal, and even Tokyo. At a St. Patrick’s Day celebration, you’re likely to see some famous Irish symbols, such as a Leprechaun or four-leaf clover.

Even if you’re not the least bit Irish, you’re welcome to join in the party. As the old saying goes, “Everyone is a little Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.” Hell, even the Great Wall put on green for the holiday last year. If you want to get your Chinese friends in on the fun, here are some useful vocabulary words for talking about this Irish holiday in Chinese:

  • St. Patrick’s Day (圣帕特里克节 – shèng pà tè lǐ kè jié)

  • March 17th (三月十七号 – sān yuè shí qī hào)

  • Ireland (爱尔兰 – Ài ěr lán)

  • Dublin (都柏林 – dū bó lín)

  • green (绿色的 – lǜ sè de)

  • parade (游行 – yóu xíng)

  • four-leaf clover (四叶草 – sì yè cǎo)

  • shamrock (酢浆草 – cù jiāng cǎo)

  • Leprechaun (拉布列康 – lā bù liè kāng)

  • rainbow (彩虹 – cǎi hóng)

  • a pot of gold (一桶金 – yī tǒng jīn)

  • bagpipe (风笛 – fēng dí)

  • bar (酒吧 – jiǔ bā)

  • beer (啤酒 – pí jiǔ)

  • Guinness (吉尼斯 – jí ní sī)

  • whiskey (威士忌 – wēi shì jì)

  • Jameson (尊美醇 – zūn měi chún)

For even more fun, why not throw a St. Patty’s Day bash with some green Chinese food? This article from About.com has ten great green recipes to whip up for the occasion.

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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.


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