“May you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.” Anonymous ~ Irish toast
Saint Patrick’s Day is the one day of the year everyone either is or wants to be, Irish.
And why not! I mean really, it looks like so much fun.
Who doesn’t want to spend time with friends telling Irish stories, singing Irish songs and raising a glass or two to..well.. you decide.
Whether it’s the religious significance, history, culture or politics of the day, on March 17th, it’s all things Irish.
I’m Irish. No really, I am.
With a maiden name like Kelly, it’s kind of hard to hide, or deny. Not that I want to do either.
My family, like many others, came to the new world during one of the famines of the 1800’s. They eventually settled in Saint John, New Brunswick, known as Canada’s “most Irish city.”
There are so many people of Irish descent in Saint John, that as kids, we just took our Irish roots for granted. Everything from our music to our education was heavily influenced by our Irish heritage. It’s as if our ancestors hadn’t really left Ireland at all, but had somehow stolen a piece of the old country and brought it with them.
I don’t believe this is unique to our region. It seems wherever the Irish settled, they held on fiercely to the ways of the homeland bringing their customs and social fraternities along with them. In some ways, the Irish who emigrated were more Irish than those that stayed home.
Indeed, the first Saint Patrick’s Day parade was not held in Ireland but rather the United States, or the colonies, as they were known at the time. On March 17th, 1762, Irish soldiers, serving in the British army, marched through New York City, principally to connect with their fellow Irish soldiers and celebrate their Irish heritage.
Today, Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated all over the world, especially in the United States, Canada and Australia.
In Ireland, the government uses Saint Patrick’s Day to foster tourism and Irish culture and each year, over 1 million people take part in the Saint Patrick’s Day festival in Dublin.
I’m not certain of my plans for the 17th, but I’m sure they’ll involve raising, at least, one glass to honour the old country and toast the very brave, but also very lonely ancestors that started this wonderful tradition many years ago.
Pub in Ireland ~ Photo via VisualHunt.com