Reflections on St. Patrick’s Day

Don Springer

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I don’t know that I can claim any heritage to the Irish so I have never celebrated much on St. Patrick’s Day. However, I have always seen it as a fun time for the Irish and a time of rejoicing for “the Irish clan.”

There is a deeper meaning to “St. Patties” day I understand and I respect that. In Ireland, it is an important religious holiday celebrating the conversing of the Irish to Christianity. I’ve never had the privilege of visiting Ireland but I believe the businesses are closed that day except for restaurants and pubs (and they do a landslide business.) St. Patrick was a missionary in the 5th century AD who is credited with converting the Irish to Christianity.

While it is an Irish holiday, the spirit is not lost on Irish-Americans, particularly in the larger cities such as New York, Celebrations for what is now a four-day festival in Ireland and elsewhere abound. Shamrocks can be found everywhere. I’m happy for the Irish on this day.

I’ve always wondered how the shamrock became associated with the Irish and I I recently learned that lesson. Green, the national color of Ireland, symbolizes the island’s lush landscape. The green shamrock is the main symbol associated with the holiday and is a small three-leafed clover or clover-like plant. According to legend, St. Patrick used the shamrock, because of the three leaves, to explain the Christian doctrine of the Trinity to the Irish people. The shamrock is now the national symbol of Ireland.

Today, more than 100 U. S. cities hold St. Patrick’s Day parade with New York’s Fifth Avenue Parade being the largest. That parade stops at St. Patrick’s Cathedral for the blessing of the marchers by the cardinal of New York.

On the fun side, it is traditional to “have one for the Irish” and the frothing beer is usually green. What else? It is my understanding Chicago’s Irish attempt to dye the Chicago River green. I have no idea if that is successful. That tradition started in 1962.

To add a little fun to your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations here are a few Irish jokes I have “appropriated” from the Crosby Community Center calendar. They might be called St. Patrick’s Day groaners.

Q. Why can’t you borrow money from a leprechaun?
A. Because they’re always a little short!

Q. Why do leprechauns have pots o’gold?
A. They like to “go” first class!

Q. How can you tell if an Irishman is having a good time?
A. He’s Dublin over with laughter!

Q. What’s Irish and stays out all night”
A. Patty O’Furniture! (That one is a stretch even for me)

Q. How did the Irish Jig get started?
A. Too much to drink and not enough rest rooms!

Now you may start the groans. I said they were Irish, I didn’t say they were good!

Whether you are Irish or not if you celebrate the big day tomorrow enjoy yourself but also take of yourself. It will be 365 days until the next “Day of the Irish!

Such are the people, places and things that have touched my life in my West Virginia home.