But I’m Not Irish

No, I’m not. And personally I’ve never understood the big deal about St. Patrick’s Day, except for the party side of it.

I’m not Irish. I don’t really like corned beef and cabbage. And I don’t drink beer very often, and I certainly don’t want to drink GREEN beer.

But it seems a lot of people we know think it’s a big deal, so I decided to see if I could figure it out by researching on line.

St. Patrick’s Day is the feast day of the patron saint of Ireland, who lived back in the 5th century. It is said he was born in Roman Britain, kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave at age 16. He eventually escaped and returned home, but then returned to Ireland where he is credited with bringing Christianity to the Irish people. Interestingly enough, he was never officially canonized as a saint in the Catholic Church. His feast day of March 17, the day we celebrate, is said to have been the day he died.

There are many legends about him that have grown through the years, including the one about him driving all the snakes out of Ireland. However, since Ireland is an island, there really weren’t ever any snakes there because it’s surrounded by water. 

And St Patrick wasn’t even Irish? Go figure.

The holiday has been celebrated in Ireland for centuries. Then as people immigrated to other countries, their traditions changed to blend in with their new surroundings, including how St. Patrick’s Day began to be celebrated. Parades, the popular Irish meal of  corned beef and cabbage, wearing of the green, and other ideas gradually found their ways into our culture, as well as in other countries, and the Irish traditions evolved to reflect various cultural activities of the countries doing the celebrating.

Why wear green? Not sure, but most likely it’s because back in the 1800’s supporters of Irish independence wore green to represent their cause, and it just sort of evolved from there. Now I do like the color green, and I have made a number of green bracelets for my jewelry business. I do know that people try to pinch you if you’re not wearing green on March 17, which to me is a bit strange. Then I discovered legend also has it that wearing green makes you invisible to leprechauns who would pinch anyone on St. Patrick’s Day not wearing green.

Now about those feisty leprechauns. What are they really? Well, they’re a part of Irish mythology and are said to be mischievous fairy-like creatures (both men and women) who make/repair shoes and spend the rest of their time hiding gold coins in hidden pots at the end of rainbows. It’s also said if you catch a leprechaun he has to tell you where that pot of gold is, but since you can never really find the end of a rainbow….what does it matter?

They’re also supposed to grant three wishes to humans who capture them in order to escape. Obviously, I wouldn’t know because I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting one.  But since they’re Irish, naturally they’ve evolved into part of the St. Patrick’s Day lore.

Why St. Patrick’s Day parades? The first one is said to have been in what is now St. Augustine, Florida in 1601.  But what really started the tradition was held in New York City in 1772, when Irish soldiers, homesick for their native country, marched through the streets on March 17 to honor St. Patrick, and the tradition gradually evolved and spread to other cities. In Dublin however, the first St. Patrick’s Day wasn’t held until 1995.

Today we see all manner of celebrations for this fun-loving day. In my opinion, it gives us a good excuse to act a little crazier than usual, drink green beer (did you know that pubs in Ireland were forced to close on St. Patrick’s Day up until the late 1970’s?), dress a bit crazy (sometimes with green wigs, green hats, green sunglasses and lighted green shamrock necklaces), and just have a party with friends. At least that’s how I see it. And fortunately the restaurant we go to every year for corned beef and cabbage is actually an Italian place, so I can get something I like much better! (And yes, their corned beef and cabbage is excellent, according to everyone who goes there for it, including my husband!)

So maybe on March 17, I could be just a little bit Irish!

Without the green beer, that is.

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