What St. Patrick’s Day Means to Croatians

Total Croatia News

It’s Paddy’s Day, and as large part of the World goes nuts and green, Croatians also tend to do so more and more

It is not easy to explain what St. Patrick Day means to Croatians, so probably the best way is to try to look into one’s own history of the process of falling in love with this holiday. For this particular traveler, it all started by reading “Trinity”, a novel by Leon Uris in my adolescent years, shaping my sympathy for the Irish in my formidable years. Then came March 15, 1995, I was 20 years old, and my beloved football club played the quarterfinal Champions League match in Amsterdam. Of course, I traveled there with some friends, as finally, I was old enough to travel legally, and enjoy some other stuff legally.

Hajduk lost, an event to be repeated much more often than I would like, but we were in high spirits since a few days of Amsterdam did us good. It was planned we will hit the road back to Croatia day after the game, but as best things happen accidentally, we met some people from Brussels while watching the match, and were informed that Brussels is close to Paris.

Of course, we got to Paris the next day, proving accidental tourism is not such a bad idea after all.

Someone knew someone there, we were not thinking much, and there we were, up the stairs of the Eiffel tower, as we could not afford the elevator. Of course, there were some Irish tourists there and the party began spontaneously. They invited us to their pub the next day, a day we were again planning to start our journey back home, but it would be inappropriate to turn down such nice people.

My first Irish pub, March 17, 1995.


We did not go home that day, but when I entered my first Irish Pub, it felt like home. I was wearing green, being a well-educated youngster I came prepared. What I was not prepared for was the variety of people I met there. Irish, English, French, Canadian, Australian, Korean, it was a small world there, united by one nation’s patron, not because he was so important to us, but because of the Irish people being so welcoming and making us feel comfortable in their pub no matter where we came from.

From that day on, March 17th became a holiday for me. I celebrated it in Zagreb, Brussels, London, Liverpool, Split, Brač, Belgrade, Sarajevo, but it was always the same feeling – nice and happy people around, smiling and being cheerful for no particular reason. And if that is not a day to be celebrated, what is?

As for the similarity of Irish and Croatian people, I really could not get into that matter, as I met so many different Croats and Irish alike, but there is one memory I cherish. It was June 10, 2012, in Poland, and in the beautiful town of Poznan Croatia and Ireland played in the group stage of Euro 2012. It was a day to remember, with more than 50K people getting there for the match from both countries.

No brawl was recorded, not even a single one, and yours truly has been bought more pints than he could even count. A party on the main square went on all day, and after the game, even though Croatians had more reasons to celebrate, it continued all the way trough the night. I remember Michael, he said he was a pizza maker in his hometown (unfortunately, I can’t remember the name), and with the sun rising above the square after what was a really long night he told me: “Do You know what makes me sad? There are more than four million people in Ireland, and just as much in Croatia, and I am so sad for them…” I was expecting some complicated reason, as they tend to be in that hour, after way too much beer, but he was straight forward; “I am sad because they are all sleeping now, and they are not aware they missed the f… party of a lifetime!”

On that note, wear something green today and… Sláinte!


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