Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Wearing of the Green

Yup. We're Irish. Some of us are more Irish than others; I'm 75%, my husband is 50%, so that makes our kids 62.5% (they like to point out that they are more Irish than their father!). Most of our kids have Irish first &/or middle names, and we all have an Irish surname. And, we're Catholic. (Spare me your inane Irish-Catholic-Big-Families jokes. I've heard them all.)

So, yes, St. Patrick's Day is a big deal for us. Maybe not as big of deal as Christmas, but pretty big. We decorate our house. We have a large stockpile of Irish-themed/green clothing that gets put to extra use on March 17th (we are guilty of wearing it all year long, though!). We plan on eating corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes at a minimum of 2 meals in mid-March. Our Guinness supply, which is always on hand, is stepped up a notch in March. All of my kids' teachers know that our family will supply their classes with Irish Soda Bread in honor of the Sainted Man's Feast Day, while my mother will make a small presentation about Patrick in each class. And, my husband proudly trots out his polyester shamrock tie every year (I think he secretly loves wearing that thing!).

Over the years, as our family has grown, some of the traditions have changed, though. My husband and I no longer drag ourselves, or our children, to the St. Patrick's Day Parade; since we have to be responsible for little ones, we can no longer keep ourselves warm in the 20-degree temperatures with mass quantities of beer. We don't host/attend crazy 24-hour debaucheries in the name of proving that we're worthy of our heritage (once you have more than 4 kids, you've proven that in another way!).

However, some traditions still continue: I still make my Bailey's Irish Cream Cake, I still wear the Celtic Cross pin my husband gave me for our 1st St. Patrick's Day, we listen to Irish music all day long, we eat Irish Soda Bread at every meal on March 17th, we still tell the kids the story of how St. Patrick used the shamrock as a way to explain the Holy Trinity and how he drove out the snakes from Ireland, we still gather at my parents' house for dinner, and, after the kids go to bed, my husband and I cuddle up on the couch to watch The Quiet Man (can you guess who I was named for?).

I like it. I like that we can proudly display our heritage. I like that my kids can see that they have a rich (albeit somewhat checkered!) ancestry that can be traced back for thousands of years. I like that feeling of camaraderie with my fellow Gaels. I like that it's another reason for our family to spend time together. And, I like that we display our pride in the clothes we wear on that day.

I even like that darn polyester shamrock tie my husband wears; but, don't tell him that!


  1. Hi Mary Kate, I'm 100% Irish-American and I liked St. Patrick's day better years ago before it became a "National Holiday" here in Chicago. Too many people act like it's some sort of New Year's Eve and Mardi Gras all rolled into one. I don't think St. Patrick intended the bars to start selling green beer at 9:00 am.

  2. Dianne, I completely agree with you! I'm in Chicago, too, and the only satisfaction I take in the bruhaha St. Paddy's Day becomes here, is that it gives every other ethnicity a run for their money! ;-) I think it also bothers me (just a little) that people (who aren't of Irish descent) claim that "everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day"; somehow, that's acceptable and a "goal", but these are the same people who tell me how every Irishman is a lazy drunk. Hmmmmmm......