Once a year, we find ourselves puttin’ on a little bit o’ the Irish style, to step out and partake of the green Guinness beer, Corned Beef and Cabbage, and a number of other Irish treats, as we celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. The day really isn’t about wearing green clothes, so you don’t get pinched, or drinking green beer, but rather a day to celebrate Saint Patrick, who came to Ireland in the fifth century and brought many of the people to Christ. In fact, in Ireland, the day is not a party day, but rather, a religious holiday, similar to Christmas and Easter. Things have changed some over the years, and these days you can find Saint Patrick’s Day parades, shamrocks, and green Guinness beer in Ireland, but it’s mostly there for the tourists who think that is the right way to celebrate the day. For most of the Irish people, however it would not be that way, and in fact, up until 1970 Irish laws mandated that pubs be closed on Saint Patrick’s Day. That is a stark contrast to the way the day is celebrated here, but the holiday doesn’t mean the same thing to Americans. I suppose that our Independence Day doesn’t mean the same thing to the Irish either.
In the United States, Saint Patrick’s Day is a day to celebrate out Irish roots, and to participate in a little playful silliness. We celebrate with “pub crawls” and green coloring in rivers. While the Chicago River is the most prominent green river on Saint Patrick’s Day, there are currently others working to emulate the same effects or have done so in the past. The Irish Marching Society decided to bring the tradition to Rockford, Illinois and dye Rock River last year. San Antonio, Texas; Savannah, Georgia; Indianapolis, Indiana; Charlotte, North Carolina; Tampa, Florida; and Washington DC have all dyed various rivers green. In 2020, city officials in Dublin, Ireland decided to get in on the fun by dying the River Liffey green…as a way to get everyone involved.
I think most of us have some Irish background, but people may not know it. It seems to me that a lot of people have immigrated from Ireland over the years. In fact, many industries like mining and the rail roads, likely would have been a ways behind where they were with the Irish immigrants. With the number of Irish immigrants that came over, there are probably very few families who don’t have a least a little bit of the Irish in them. Nevertheless, Irish or not, most of us like to celebrate the wearin’ of the green every year when Saint Paddy’s Day rolls around. So, whether you drink green beer or eat corned beef and cabbage, or simply wear green so you don’t get pinched, happy Saint Patrick’s Day to you all!!