Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
As I’ve noted before, my family takes pride in its Irish heritage. My maternal grandfather immigrated from Ireland when he was in his 20s, and my maternal grandmother’s parents were from the same county in western Ireland as my grandfather. On my father’s side the connection goes back farther, but they still celebrate their Irish roots. Thus St. Patrick’s Day in my family has always been a big deal.
At the very least, one has to wear green on March 17th to celebrate. When my little sister was younger, she used to go all out (she probably still does, I’ll have to ask), painting her face the colors of the Irish flag, and wearing shamrock stickers, Irish flags and other Irish paraphernalia all over her body on St. Patrick’s Day. As kids my dad was president of the local Ancient Order of Hibernians club, and we would help out by making corned beef sandwiches and “boiled” dinners (boiled cabbage, carrots, and potatoes with corned beef) at the club, with Irish music blaring from the stereo, while we served people dressed head-to-toe in green.
Since we always did something on St. Patrick’s Day, it took me a long time to realize that not everyone around the world celebrated the day. When I was in elementary school I had an Indian pen pal who lived in Malaysia. I asked him what he did for St. Patrick’s Day and he told me (much to my elementary school surprise) that there weren’t many Irish people in Malaysia, so they didn’t celebrate (wha?). Then when I lived in France, I wished everyone a “bon fete de St. Patrice!” to which most people responded, “But my name’s not Patrick.” (since in France each day has a saint associated with it, and on the saint’s day associated with your name you wish people a “bon fete”). Since it wasn’t a big deal there either, I decided to go all out… totally dressing in green and making sure to wish everyone a Happy St. Patrick’s Day anyway whether their name was Patrice or not.
P has celebrated several St. Patrick’s Days with us– a few at the old AOH club we grew up at. I can’t say that he is a big fan of “boiled” Irish dinners he used to eat the cabbage, potatoes, carrots and ham… and I’d eat the cabbage, potatoes and carrots. The lack of “spice” (unless you count salt and pepper) disappoints the palate if you are used to more flavorful fair, but he tries it none-the-less.
So if you get the chance, try to take a moment to do something to commemorate the day… have a slice of Irish Soda Bread, try a boiled dinner, listen to some Irish music, but on a green shirt, or at least enjoy a beer… because as they say at the Guinness Factory, “Everyone is Irish on March 17th!”