St Patrick's Day in Germany: History, customs and traditions

St Patrick's Day in Germany: History, customs and traditions

Probably one of the most important events of the year for Ireland, St Patrick’s Day, is once again on its way. But how and why is this day celebrated each year, and how can you take part in the celebrations in Germany? Here’s everything you need to know about the great green festival and how to celebrate it! 

What is Saint Patrick's Day?

St Patrick’s Day is the remembrance day of the primary patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick, which is celebrated every year on March 17. 

The story of Saint Patrick

Saint Patrick was born in Roman Britain and moved around Ireland as a Christian missionary and bishop in the fifth century. He is widely credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland and is celebrated each year on the date of his death 16 centuries ago. Patrick is known to have used the shamrock as a teaching tool to show converts in Ireland the Holy Trinity. Legend has it that he also banished all of the snakes from Ireland. 

British or Irish?

Though Patrick was born in Britain, he is said to have been kidnapped by Irish raiders at the age of 16 and taken to Ireland. There he was held as a prisoner for six years, where he found solace in practising Christianity. Patrick then managed to escape and return to Britain, only to later decide to return to Ireland to pursue his purpose as a spiritual teacher and convert those following a religion of Celtic polytheism to Christianity. 

Why is St Paddy's Day celebrated in Germany?

So many countries are home to a large Irish community, and Germany is no exception. As more and more Irish people have emigrated to Germany, Ireland has a greater cultural presence and more German cities have started celebrating the holiday. 

While the religious aspects of the day are not widely observed outside of Ireland, parades, festivals and events at Irish pubs are common in Germany, and the day is truly special for the Irish community in the federal republic. 

How is St Patrick’s day celebrated in Germany?

Unlike in Ireland, St Patrick’s day is not a national holiday in Germany, but many Irish people across the country still celebrate the day, even if it’s just with a beer after work

St Patrick's Day traditions

The celebrations in Germany are not as grand as those in Ireland or other Anglosphere nations such as the US and UK, but you can celebrate in small ways at home or with friends.

Many people choose to celebrate by cooking traditional Irish food and sharing it at home with friends and family, or simply by adding a green item of clothing to their outfits such as a scarf, hat or jumper. There are also several organised St Patrick’s Day events in Germany’s bigger cities. 

Happy St Patrick's Day in Irish

If you want to wish your Irish friends or family a happy St Patrick’s Day, it’s a nice touch to be able to say it in Irish Gaelic. The most popular way to wish someone a great St Patrick’s Day is to say, “Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona duit!”, which is pronounced “Law leh Paw-drig suna ghit”.

Where to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in Germany

The best places to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in Germany are the country’s largest cities: Munich and Berlin. Despite being the capital city, Berlin’s celebrations are actually not as impressive as what Munich has to offer. 

Celebrations on March 17 in Germany

Both cities hold a bright, beautiful and green parade to mark St Patrick’s Day, with bagpipes, drummers and even an appearance from the mayor. Many people choose to dress up in traditional Irish costumes, but there are also others that simply decorate themselves in green glitter or wear an item of green clothing. And of course, there’s plenty of Irish dancing!

Monuments lit up green

Many of the celebrations such as parades and parties take place on the Sunday before St Patrick’s Day, but on March 17 a number of monuments are lit up green to celebrate the day. Munich’s Allianz Arena and Olympic Tower are traditionally the Bavarian landmarks that are illuminated in green and Berlin’s Funkturm also joins in the green party.

St Patrick’s Day in Germany 2024 

St Patrick's Day events are back with a vengeance in Germany this year. In Berlin alone there will be parades and folk vents from Reinickendorf to Köpenick. In Frankfurt, many Irish pubs and bars have pub crawls and parades planned for St Paddy's Day, which fortunately falls on a Friday this year.



Emily Proctor

Former Editor at IamExpat Media.

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