St. Patrick’s Day is a cultural and religious holiday in honor of Saint Patrick, the foremost patron saint of Ireland. While the holiday started off as an official Christian feast and was observed by the Catholic and Anglican churches, including the Church of Ireland, it has now become a day of significance worldwide and is celebrated by dressing up in green and going out to listen to Irish music and drink green beverages. In other words, this holiday has now become synonymous with Irish culture and is celebrated all over the globe. In fact, St. Paddy’s Day is said to be the most widely celebrated national holiday of any one country. Thus, it should come as no surprise that there are even celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day in Turkey.
You see, for decades now, Istanbul has had its own resident Irish pub, aptly named James Joyce. Located in the heart of Beyoğlu on Balo Sokak, the James Joyce Irish Pub can arguably be said to be the most popular “Expat Venue” in town. Not only is there food and drinks on offer in this spacious multi-level restaurant and performance space, but the James Joyce Irish Pub also has nightly live musical performances and regularly hosts English-language Quiz Nights for the expat crowd.
A lesser-known fact is that every year, the Irish musicians in town, as well as a number of former expat musicians, return to the James Joyce in March to take part in the multi-day celebrations held each year at the pub. With the addition of a new venue in Antalya, this year’s St. Paddy’s Day celebrations are set to be double the fun!
In Istanbul, the St. Paddy’s Day Feast will kick off with two musical outfits performing. Honey Badger frontlines, starting at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 17, followed by a concert by the rock group Surrender, who will be performing covers of well-known Irish performers such as U2. The celebrations will run into the weekend with a concert by resident James Joyce band Acil Servis on Friday, March 18, and on Saturday, March 19, there will be a special performance by female vocalist Zerrin Mete.
The real treat and event expats look forward to will be a performance of traditional Irish music, which will take place on Sunday, March 20 in the Istanbul venue starting at 9 p.m. This is such a beloved event amongst the expat community and especially its musicians that a number of former Irish expats and musicians that used to reside in Turkey actually return to Istanbul to perform and take part in the James Joyce Irish Pub’s annual multi-day festival for this special celebration.
Luckily, James Joyce has now branched out into Antalya’s Konyaaltı neighborhood and so similar multi-day festivities can also be expected at this expat “cornerstone” venue. A fun fact for any expat is that for some reason, as is the case with St. Patrick’s Day itself, the Irish culture and venues that promote it tend to always become hangout destinations for foreigners in cities throughout the world and especially in Turkey. There is something about the classic setup of a traditional pub equipped with upholstered booths and dart boards that offers a sense of comfort and an environment in which you can easily socialize with others. This of course reaches a peak on St. Paddy’s Day.
St. Patrick’s Day is held annually on March 17 since the early 17th century to commemorate Saint Patrick. Considered the “Apostle of Ireland,” St. Patrick is said to have actually been born in Britain, but was captured from his home by Irish pirates and taken to Ireland as a slave. There, he spent six years tending to animals before escaping and returning to his family. Later in life, he became a cleric and then a bishop and returned to Ireland, the nation he now represents. Like St. Paddy himself, the holiday in his honor has truly transcended borders and is credited as being the most widely celebrated national and religious holiday in the world.
St. Patrick’s Day is huge in Ireland of course as well as throughout the United Kingdom and is also celebrated widely in the United States. While some frown on the way in which it is celebrated, with festivities being predominantly held by pubs all over the world, as is the case in Turkey, it has undisputedly become a steadfast tradition in many countries. There are however, three important tips that those who are not “in the know” should know.
The number one tip is that the official color of St. Patrick’s Day is green and the top rule on the day is to include something green in your outfit. If you don’t, then anyone who catches your lack of green in your choice of clothing for the day has the right to pinch you. Yes, I know it sounds crazy if you are unfamiliar with this part of the holiday tradition, but it’s true. If you don’t wear green, then people are allowed and even encouraged to pinch you – and it can hurt! So, if there is anything you absolutely need to know, it is that you need to put something green on before you are spotted outside on March 17.
So, the number one tip is to wear green. Number two is that if you don’t people can pinch you. Of course, you can also pinch others that do not follow this less spoken rule of the day. The third tip is that on St. Patrick’s Day, like the decorations displayed, many beverages and even food items will also be green. So, be aware that your favorite beverage of choice may also be dyed green on St. Paddy’s Day and, in Turkey’s case, throughout the holiday weekend!
The shamrock has long been a symbol of Ireland. The reason behind this is that St. Patrick would use it to illustrate the Holy Trinity as he Christianized Ireland.
In Chicago each year, the Chicago River is dyed green and there are parades held throughout the city.
New York City is said to hold the biggest parade on the day, followed by Sydney, Australia, which also commemorates St. Paddy’s Day as national “Family Day.” In Sydney, the precinct referred to as “The Rocks” is also transformed into an Irish town for the day.
The biggest celebrations of St. Paddy’s Day are of course in Dublin, but there are parades and festivals held in countless cities from London to Brussels and even Auckland, New Zealand, as well as a street party that takes place in Buenos Aires. And then, of course, there is also the two-day “I Love Ireland Festival” held annually in Tokyo, Japan.