STOCKHOLM’S SAINT PATRICK’S DAY PARADE 2015
Totally Stockholm sat down with Emma Patterson, the President of the Swedish Irish Society, to learn more about the history of SIS, faux-pas when it comes to this important holiday celebration and what to expect for this Sunday’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade!
by daniela trujillo evb
What goes into preparing for the parade? Give us a bit of the behind-the-scenes of it all?
It’s a big undertaking, the biggest event by far that the Swedish-Irish Society organizes. There are permits, sponsorship and publicity to take care of. The entire parade is prepared and done voluntarily by members of the Swedish-Irish community. These people have full-time jobs and other commitments, so it’s a big challenge. It’s very hectic, but it usually comes together in the end!
How many Irish ex-pats does Stockholm currently have?
We don’t really know in fact, a few thousand probably.
Aside from geographic place, how does the parade in Stockholm differ from the one in Dublin?
For one thing the St Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin is always held on the 17th, and has grown over the years into a weeklong festival! The parade there is much more like Mardi Gras, with elaborate floats and circus artists. We’ve a long way to go to get to that stage but this year we’ve taken a definite step in that direction which is really exciting. We’ll have stilt-walkers and a small float, and a really big snake!
St Patrick’s day is culturally and historically huge for the Irish, Catholics and just people world-wide. What would it be like as an Irish person to not celebrate this festivity?
I suppose in some ways the urge to celebrate is stronger the further away from home you are. If anyone tends towards homesickness all the talk around St Patrick’s Day can accentuate it. It’s nice to have a way of celebrating that is family-friendly too.
How long has the Swedish Irish Society been around?
It’s a pensioner! It’s been around since 1949! But it’s still going strong and this committee is one of the youngest so it’s alive and kicking!
How long have you been the president of SIS?
I’ve been president since 2014. This is my first parade at the helm!
What is the society’s goal?
The society was founded by Swedes who were interested in Ireland and Irish culture. As more and more Irish people move to Sweden it has naturally become a place for them to meet. We combine both goals with our activities; we organize meet-ups for newcomers and organize events around Irish culture or food throughout the year.
How many current members do you guys have?
We currently have around 200 members.
Does one have to be Irish to become a member?
Not at all, anyone who is interested in our goals is welcome.
I hear there are prizes for the best costumes this year… any clues as to what people can win?
A night at the Grand Hotel, a family session and photo by photographer Sandra Jolly, vouchers for Hotel Hornsgatan, vouchers for Dubliner & Southside Pubs, Tea and Toast [an Irish-themed] café and more!
Tell me a bit about similarities and/or differences between Sweden and Ireland as places/cities (Dublin & Stockholm) and culturally speaking.
There’s more “banter” in Dublin. You’re more likely to wind up chatting randomly when out and about. I think Stockholm can feel a bit strange in the beginning in that respect.
You encourage everyone to wear green and to dress up… what kind of costumes do you mean? Surely not a tooth fairy or a banana suit, so what should we aim for?
Well, we were thinking Irish-themed, but if someone goes all out as a tooth fairy I guess we’d find a runner-up prize for them!
This parade really sounds like a party- face painting, music, dancing, costumes and more. Once the parade ends in Gamla Stan do people go out for a good ole’ pint of Guinness?
Indeed they do! Wirströms and The Liffey, which are both a stones throw away, serve an excellent pint of Guinness.
Could you tell me about or recommend any other Irish events, pubs or festivities people should be on the look out for?
There is in fact a whole festival programme this year of events being held around the country. It can be found on our website.
If someone wants to know about all the SIS is doing year round, but can’t become a member what do you suggest? What benefits does becoming a member include?
Members get emails, newsletters, chances to enter competitions- most recently for Lord of the Dance tickets- and discounts to our ticketed events.
Lastly, do you speak Gaelic? How would one or what would one say to someone on St Paddy’s day?
I used to be quite good but it’s unfortunately all evaporated. As long as you don’t say “Patty” its all fine. It’s never, ever Patty, that’s something made up by Americans. Pinching people for not wearing green is also an American thing. You would never hear or see either of those things in Ireland.
Lá fhéile Pádraig sona duit (“Law aey-la Paw-rig son-a ditch”) is Happy St Patrick’s Day to you in Gaelic!
This Sunday, March 15th join The Swedish Irish Society for the annual Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. Beginning at 1300 at Humlegården and heading marching towards Gamla Stan starting at 1400, be sure to wear green and not miss this special event.
For full details on the parade visit:
And for the entire programme of events related to the holiday and put on by SIS, click here.
In case you didn’t know, we have a Totally Dublin as well. Check it out!