Paddy Pride: St. Patrick’s Day in the USA
St. Patrick’s Day may be known in our country for boisterous celebration and dyeing both rivers and beer various shades of emerald, but the holiday is actually rich with culture and tradition.
According to Eamonn McGrath, a native Irishman and executive director of the Irish Cultural Center of New England, the 19th century Irish American immigrants celebrated St. Patrick’s Day as a way to honor their ancestry while embracing their new homeland. He likens it to our 4th of July, where people spend time with family, enjoy special food and go to a parade.
McGrath notes that the holiday is “more raucously and widely celebrated” in other countries than it is in Ireland…a paradox that actually makes sense. “All people with Irish heritage long for home,” he says.
Irish or not, here are some ways to add some culture and creativity and flavor the holiday with some genuine Irish spirit:
Nothing wrong with a shamrock shake, but why not indulge in some authentic Irish grub instead? Corned beef and cabbage is a traditional dish that Irish American immigrants ate because it was not only tasty, but economical and filling. Whip up a batch in your slow cooker and pair it with some Irish soda bread – a simple, dense, not-too-sweet bread that goes great with the savory stew.
BREAK OUT THE BLARNEY
Unless you happen to live in Shamrock, Texas (where a chunk of the original Blarney Stone is on display for visitors), you probably won’t get a chance to smooch the iconic rock. But tradition says that kissing it grants people the gift of gab – a must for every celebration. Set up a Blarney Stone kissing booth with a sign explaining the story behind it and have each guest plant a peck on the stone as they enter your party. Use a piece of limestone if you want to emulate the original Blarney, or paint a smooth stone green and/or decorate it with shamrocks or other Irish icons.
Upbeat Irish music is the heart of any St. Paddy’s celebration. Some classic tunes to consider: Skibbereen, Finnegan’s Wake and The Irish Rover. Crank up the Dubliners, Clancy Brothers and the Wolfe Tones. If the fiddles and banjos wear thin, switch over to other Irish artists like Van Morrison, The Pogues and U2.
The Irish helped build canals, railroads, cities and infrastructure in spite of being disenfranchised and subject to prejudice. Professor Christopher Dowd of the University of New Haven encourages people to “reflect on the incredible contributions this immigrant group made to the country.”
KEY DATES IN MARCH:
- MARCH 2: Employee Appreciation Day
- MARCH 2: National Salesperson Day
- MARCH 3: National Caregiver Day
- MARCH 17: St. Patrick’s Day
- MARCH 20: International Earth Day
- MARCH 23: National Puppy Day
- MARCH 30: Good Friday