Going Green on Saint Patrick’s Day


There were little men in green and there were hairy ones swigging pints. There were plenty of pretty ladies, and bands belting riotous tunes. There were also children, lots of children. It’s not a local festival but Saint Patrick’s Day has found its way into Singapore’s list of annual festivals, with this year’s the largest and loudest by far. Aside from the pockets of revelers at Irish pubs, this year’s celebrations included parades and a full blown carnival taking up much of Boat Quay’s back streets. Families and children, in particular, were out in force, tagging along with dad and sporting green hats.

Revellers, all decked out in their festive finest participated in the Saint Patrick’s Day parade which began at the Sir Stanford Raffle’s statue along Boat Quay and terminated at UOB Plaza. Circular road, just adjacent to the parade ending point was closed off for a host of performances and the throng of merrymakers with family in tow. Many curious locals, thirsty for a stein of stout joined in for a cultural exposure of Irish dance and music.


Saint Patrick’s Day is a national holiday of immense significance in Ireland, and commemorates the death of Saint Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint. He has been credited with the spread of Christianity in Ireland, in the 4th century A.D, and performing miracles such as banishing all snakes from the island. It is related to the religious observance of Lent where the believer prepares himself for Easter Sunday with abstinence, prayer and repentance. However, for one day during this period, during Saint Patrick’s Day, the restrictions on eating and drinking are lifted which has led to a carnival-like celebration of this otherwise solemn occasion. Over the years, the Irish diaspora have embraced this occasion strongly as a reminder of their Irish roots. For a time, the festival was much more significant and celebrated with more gusto in overseas Irish communities than on the home islands itself.

In Singapore, the celebrations have been championed by the Saint Patrick’s Society – a 91-year-old organisation which, to my recollection, held its inaugural parade in 2014 along the banks of Boat Quay. Since then, it has moved from a marketing event by Irish pubs to a full-fledged outdoor festival. What I found most heartening was that the event was very well-run. There was a cultural focus, whereby it comes a positive nexus for families to come together to celebrate their heritage, and not just another excuse for a weekend drunken carousel.

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About Author

Guo-Hua, affectionately dubbed Golden Goh since his schooling days, seeks the meaning of life through travel and connections with everyone and anyone.

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