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History of Saint Patrick's Day Around the World

Canada

The longest-running Saint Patrick's Day parade in Canada occurs each year in Montreal. The parades have been held in continuity since 1824; however, St. Patrick's Day itself has been celebrated in Montreal as far back as 1759 by the Irish soldiers of the Montreal Garrison, following the British conquest of New France.

In Canada, Saint Patrick's Day is an official holiday only in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Some groups, notably Guinness, have lobbied to make Saint Patrick's Day a federal (national) holiday.

Great Britain

2006 St Patrick's Day celebrations in Trafalgar Sq, LondonIn Great Britain, the late Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (the Queen Mother) used to present bowls of shamrock flown over from Ireland to members of the Irish Guards, a regiment in the British Army consisting primarily of Irishmen from both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. In 2002, London mayor Ken Livingstone organized an annual Saint Patrick's Day parade which takes place on weekends around the 17th, usually in Trafalgar Square.

Another tradition is the consumption of large amounts of Guinness in the hope of getting a "Guinness Hat," a hat that pubs give away after a certain amount of the beverage has been consumed. The horse racing at the Cheltenham Festival attracts large numbers of Irish people, both residents of Britain and many who travel from Ireland, and usually coincides with Saint Patrick's Day.

The largest Saint Patrick's Day parade in the UK is held in Birmingham over a two mile route through the city centre. The organisers describe it as the third biggest parade in the world after Dublin and New York. Other Saint Patrick's Day parades take place around the country including in London where the largest minority community is Irish. The Lanarkshire town of Coatbridge where the majority of the town's population are of Irish descent also has a day of celebration and parades in the town centre.

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