St. Patrick’s Day hits us every year in Mid-March but what are we really celebrating (or drinking for) on this day? The Christian Classics Ethereal Library defines St. Patrick’s Day as a yearly holiday celebrated on March 17th and named after Saint Patrick, most commonly recognized as the patron of the saints of Ireland.
So basically Christian Classics Ethereal Library doesn’t really know either.
But there’s something very magical about the St. Patrick's holiday. For one, it's the only thing that gets thousands of people to go to New Jersey (The Hoboken Saturday). It’s also the only day that suggests we wear a certain color (excluding the coworker that wears red on February 14th and plays it off as their natural wardrobe choice of the day). And lastly, it’s the only employable day of the year for a leprechaun (or at least since the making of Disney’s Luck of the Irish).
But who knows what really is behind the holiday. Or at the very least, what does it really mean to be Irish?
I have one proud Irish friend who takes off work every year to take part in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on 5th avenue, the largest civilian parade in the world, and march alongside her family and 150,000 other Irish people and drunk Long Island high schoolers. Afterwards, she feasts and drinks all afternoon and into the night at her aunt’s house.
Then I have one friend you don’t even remember is Irish until it comes up at the most random time. She’ll be flipping through channels and come across a Celtic concert on rolling green hills with little aspiring Enyas on stage during Yanni's latest PBS special. She’ll make a comment about how embarrassed she is to be Irish because of these performances and I’ll chuckle pretending I hadn’t forgotten.
With such a dichotomy, I wondered what exactly it means to be Irish. And what exactly the reason is for this day on March 17th.
So to get to the bottom of this I asked the same friends and to get their most accurate opinion, I caught them off-guard, not concealing my intentions, but with a simple Gchat message asking them, “What does being Irish mean to you?”
Friend 1: it means fun funerals
Waking Ned Devine was the first image that came to my mind. She provided no more and I didn’t push it. My other friend:
Friend 2: The gift of the gab, a supernatural tolerance to delicious whisky, taste buds that love a good brew and feet that could dance for eternity because the inexplicable joy that comes from our Irish disposition.
I found it interesting that the one who participates in the annual parade was the same person poking fun at funerals while the one who seemed, at times embarrassed, proudly stood up for her taste buds and Irish identity.
But I wasn’t ready to take a festive holiday and pass socio-cultural judgments about anyone. My mission to find the St. Patrick’s day meaning was simple and clear, unlike this holiday.......or perhaps the very essence of it.
And just as nobody questions why we have Memorial and Labor Day, I’ve learned to take it all in and ask no questions. Embrace the obese woman on your morning commute in bright green pants. Embrace the green-frosted cinnamon roles Helen in HR is passing around. And perhaps most importantly, embrace the shot(s) of whisky and beer, not because it’s just Wednesday but because it’s St. Patrick’s Day.