Both the United States and Canada have substantial populations of folks with Irish ancestry and both nations have parades and celebrations across the land to observe St. Patrick’s Day, though many of the parades are not on March 17, but rather on the Saturday before or after. In Winnipeg, for example, this year’s parade is set for March 18, while in Omaha the parade was held on March 11 and in Des Moines the parade is scheduled for March 17.
In Canada, St. Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in Newfoundland and Labrador on the nearest Monday to March 17 each year. In the states it is a legal holiday only in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, and in Savannah, Georgia
The observance remembers St. Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint. He was a missionary who converted many of Ireland’s inhabitants to Christianity in the 5th century.
In Canada there are annual parades celebrating Irish culture in Edmonton, Halifax, Hudson, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec, Richmond, Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg. The Chicago River is dyed green for Saint Patrick’s Day every year. The holiday is widely recognized throughout the United States. In addition to parades, celebrations include prominent displays of the color green, eating and drinking, religious observances and numerous parades. The holiday has been celebrated on the North American continent since the late 18th century.
Irish Canadians are Canadian citizens who have full or partial Irish heritage including descendants who trace their ancestry to immigrants who originated in Ireland. From 1825 to 1970 1.2 million Irish immigrants arrived in Canada , and at least half of those in the period from 1831–1850. By 1867, they were the second largest ethnic group, after the French, and comprised 24% of Canada’s population.
The 2006 census by Statistics Canada, Canada’s Official Statistical office, revealed that the Irish were the 4th largest ethnic group, with 4,354,000 Canadians with full or partial Irish descent or 15% of the country’s total population. This was a large and significant increase of 531,495 since the 2001 census, which counted 3,823,000 respondents quoting Irish ethnicity. According to the National Household Survey 2011, the population of Irish ancestry has increased since 2006 to 4,544,870.
About 33.3 million United States citizens – 10.5% of the total population – reported Irish ancestry in the 2013 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. This compares with a population of 6.4 million on the island of Ireland. Three million people separately identified as Scots-Irish, whose ancestors were Ulster Scots who emigrated from Ireland to the United States.