St. Patrick’s Day Traditions

St. Patrick’s Day is on March 17, and for over a millennium has been celebrated in Ireland as a religious holiday. It’s celebrated abroad, and not just by those of Irish descent. The first parade was actually held in New York City, and is the largest in the world. I remember as a kid, watching it every year. To me, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade was only second to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The music from  bagpipes, and men marching in beautiful tartan kilts were iconic. We ate the traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal of corned beef and cabbage, which wasn’t my favorite dinner, but the day wouldn’t be complete without it. I also remember being assigned to watch movies like “The Quiet Man” for homework, and having to discuss it the next day at school. Of course, I wore as many green articles of clothing as I could find, as if I were in a contest for being the greenest, and walked around saying phrases like “Top of the morning to you!”

Top of the morning to you! Believe it or not, this saying actually comes from New Zealand, where they believe they are at the top of the world, not the bottom; therefore say, “TOP of the morning.” Centuries ago, people in America weren’t as familiar with all English-language accents, and had mistaken the speakers for being Irish. This is why those in the U.S. think this is an Irish phrase. Countries with residents of Irish descent celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and in general, mostly for commercial reasons. Traditionally for many, it’s a lot about the beer, selling Irish paraphernalia, and being festive.

As soon as you walk out your door, you’ll recognize it’s St. Patrick’s Day, in case you don’t keep track of it. You’ll spot the traditional green color EVERYWHERE! Clothing, hair, faces, rivers, buildings and more, will have been transfigured into the color of the Emerald Isle. If you live in a town or a city where a parade is held, traffic will be a bit of a mess in the morning along the route due to detours. People will be extraordinarily jovial. Laughing, hugging, joking, and singing won’t be unusual behavior.

Many celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by wearing green, drinking Irish beer, and eating corned beef and cabbage. Some gather in pubs after work wearing “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” t-shirts, and enjoy a Guinness ale or green beer, perhaps with “pub grub” or the traditional meal, and a game of darts to the sounds of the Chieftans and the Clancy Brothers. People talk about kissing the Blarney Stone, searching for four-leaf clovers, and trying to catch a leprechaun to get his pot of gold. Have they had one too many by this point?

What do you do on St. Patrick’s Day? Do you have any family or personal traditions? Is it the same as any other day? Do they not celebrate it in your country? Dare to share!


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