St. Patrick’s Day party held at Jing’an Kerry Centre
Agreen Irish party was recently held on the outdoor stage at the Jing’an Kerry Centre Plaza attracting a number of singing, partying Irish nationals. The event was organized by Le Chéile, an association for the Irish community in Shanghai, with the support of the Consulate General of Ireland in Shanghai and the Jing’an District Foreign Affairs Office.
“The Irish sense of community is very strong. Thanks to the Irish Consulate in Shanghai and Chinese warm welcome, we all feel China to be our home away from home, which is really nice,” Sarah O’Connell, a student of East China Normal University, told the Global Times. “To me personally, our national holiday, St. Patrick’s Day, means a lot, that is why I am here today.”
Saint Patrick’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick, is a cultural and religious celebration held every March 17. The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland and celebrates Irish heritage and culture.
Celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, the wearing of green attire or shamrocks and Irish people extending their famously warm Irish Failte or “Welcome.” Since the first St. Patrick parade in 1762, the occasion has become an annual party tradition all across the world.
Irish for one day
The Irish National Day, St. Patrick’s Day, took place in Shanghai on March 11 with the theme “Irish for one day” to celebrate Ireland’s long culture of music and dance. Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Shanghai has indeed become a tradition starting in 2005. Since then, the event has encompassed a wide range of well-organized features conducted by devoted Irish and locals.
“Generally, Irish people do not carry an umbrella unless it rains heavily. So even if it was raining, we would definitely have some options,” said Consul General of Ireland in Shanghai Therese Healy during the event, which was attended by more than 3,500 people wearing green glasses and garlands, stickers and temporary tattoos, clothes and shoes.
A traditional Chinese red dragon rising over the long procession was also colored green, symbolizing the colorful multicultural mix of Chinese and Irish attendees.
“The reason the event has become more popular is the growing trend of Irish expats in Shanghai marrying Chinese people and vice versa,” Healy clarified for the Global Times. “A new generation of Irish-Chinese children have become a part of the Chinese family. By estimation, there are over 1,000 Irish living in Shanghai.”
A number of young Irish or mixedrace performers performed on the outdoor stage of Jing’an Kerry Centre together with ethnic Chinese friends. Many Le Chéile kids, the children of the Irish community in Shanghai, cannot speak the Gaelic language, yet they have mastered songs in the language and also learned traditional Irish dancing.
Another impressive performance, by Cnoc na Gaoithe, comprised 10 musicians and dancers from Ireland while local Chinese dance groups were also an integral part of the show. Celtic Storm and Fudan University Irish Dance Group entertained the crowds with world-famous Irish tapdancing.
In addition, Jing’an district authorities invited three performances from Jing’an Temple to participate in the cultural exchange event, including the Tongxin dance team for a “Rain in the flower” dance, Children Shaoxing Opera with “Flirting Scholar,” and qipao show “Shanghai rumor.”
“Over 90 percent of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) in Shanghai are Chinese, but none of them are actually Irish-Chinese. Those young members have proudly developed their interest in ancient Gaelic football,” a GAA member told the Global Times.
“In fact, Chinese and Irish people are very similar. Both China and Ireland have very ancient traditions, so we feel comfortable together,” the GAA member said. “Our people are very hard-working and like having fun too. We all believe that the state of family and education are crucially important. Everything we do is for the benefit of our families and friends.”
People have fun at this year’s St. Patrick’s Day party in Shanghai. Photos: Catherine Valley/GT