Shamrocks for all!
Many people ignore St. Patrick’s day because they find little to relate to, but in actuality St. Patrick’s day shares many similar practices with other holidays and can also change one’s view about Irish culture, and one’s own culture
By Frankie Hammonds
Many people, particularly protestant Christian’s may ignore St. Patrick’s Day because they find very little to relate to. They assume it is either a Catholic holiday or a secular holiday focused mostly on drinking beer. Ironically, for a long time St. Patrick’s day was a dry holiday since it was seen as a religious holiday. However, for those who actually celebrate it, the day means so much more.
I talked with Rebecca Brittingham, a Regent Graduate student and third generation Irish woman about her family’s St. Patrick’s Day traditions. One tradition was that if you didn’t wear something green you got pinched. One her favorite traditions was include practicing Irish dances, even putting on dance shows for local schools. Sometimes, as a family they would go on trips to places like New York where they have big Parades. But most important of all was her family’s St. Patrick’s Day parties, where they would hang green decorations throughout their house. Sometimes they would leave the decorations up long after the holiday passed.
Every year they would have a special dinner of “Corned beef and Cabbage”. This was a special beef brisket that they started cooking early in the morning and left to cook all day much like a certain November poultry dish you may be familiar with. When it was finished it would be so tender that it would fall apart in the cock pot. It was served with Irish style potatoes and mustard. Since it was a special dinner they would eat it in their dining room with their good dishes and even drink sparkling cider. For Miss Brittingham this was a special day to remember her culture and celebrate all things Irish. But is there something for those of us who do not share the same cultural foundation.
While I clearly don’t have the same Irish roots as Miss Brittingham (being African American). I too, have fond memories of Saint Patrick’s Day traditions. I have enjoyed, and sometimes feared the pinching rule ever since I was in elementary school. Most people knew enough to wear green because at my school it was open season on anyone who forgot their green. While my family didn’t have Corned Beef and Cabbage, somehow every year some item of food would mysteriously turn green. Over the past 25 years I have enjoyed everything from green cup cakes and cookies to green eggs and ham.
I even remember a few occasions where I was served green milk. St. Patrick’s day was the one day of the year you could drink green milk with confidence. As I have grown I have tried to implement some form of Irish culture into St. Patrick’s Day, even if it’s just listening to Irish folk music which was usually instrumental and can be borrowed from most local libraries (or YouTubed). It makes great ambiance music for cooking or doing homework. Best of all is when you are stopped at a traffic light and the music of the car next to you is so loud that you can feel it, just role down your window and crank up some Irish Folk music, at the very least it’ll take him by surprise and you may get a laugh out of the deal. Then drive off with a “Happy St. Patrick’s Day!”