HUMOR – Did you know that only about 6.4 million people live in Ireland? Ireland itself is just over a third of the size of Utah, only with way more pubs per capita.
But roughly 36 million Americans claim Irish ancestry, and that figure will likely spike dramatically in observance of St. Patrick’s Day Monday – with good reason.
Pretending to be Irish is kind of fun.
Whether or not I have actual Irish ancestors I cannot say, but my guess is that if you climb high enough in any American’s family tree, surely there is an Irishman up there somewhere. I proudly claim to be of Irish descent every year on St. Patrick’s Day – not because I like to drink until I can’t remember what year it is, but because it makes a great excuse to attend a parade instead of washing and folding seven loads of laundry.
Maybe Dixie would get behind the idea of a St. Paddy’s Day parade if its citizens dyed their pioneer bonnets green? It’s an idea worth lobbing towards the City Council I think.
Traditionally, St. Patrick’s Day is an Irish feast day in honor of St. Patrick, who is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland back in the 5th century. It has since morphed into an international celebration of all things seemingly-Irish, including but not limited to: shamrocks, leprechauns, corned beef and cabbage, Sinead O’Connor, and parades where people play the bagpipe and dye the river green.
The New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade began in 1762 when a group of Irish soldiers marched to a tavern, presumably to get out of doing laundry. It is now the world’s largest St. Patrick’s Day parade, with over 2 million people observing and between 160,000 and 180,000 participants. That is a lot of bagpipes. And to those who would argue that bagpipes are not Irish: Guess what? Neither was St. Patrick.
As anyone who has accidentally found themselves in downtown Las Vegas on St. Patrick’s Day can attest, the formerly religious celebration is now mostly lost on the publicly intoxicated, shamrock-festooned crowds.
Scottish journalist Alex Massie wrote:
When I was a student in Dublin we scoffed at the American celebration of St. Patrick, finding something preposterous in the green beer, the search for any connection, no matter how tenuous, to Ireland, the misty sentiment of it all that seemed so at odds with the Ireland we knew and actually lived in. Who were these people dressed as Leprechauns and why were they dressed that way? This Hibernian Brigadoon was a sham, a mockery, a Shamrockery of real Ireland and a remarkable exhibition of plastic paddyness. But at least it was confined to the Irish abroad and those foreigners desperate to find some trace of green in their blood.
Maybe we are just desperate to “find some trace of green in (our) blood.” Maybe some people just want a reason to drink until they think they’ve seen a leprechaun. I think I am just desperate to get out of doing laundry.
Elise Haynes chronicles family life in her blog Haynes Family Yard Sale. Any opinions stated in this column are her own and not necessarily those of St. George News.
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