As a kid, St. Patrick’s Day was a goof. Wear something green or get pinched. The cafeteria lunch would include some kind of green treat (usually, lime Jell-o, occasionally sugar cookies with green icing – I preferred the Jell-o) and that was pretty much it.
In college, I joined a sorority and as such, got invited to all the Greek parties and obviously there was one on St. Patrick’s Day. Within our sorority, we were sectioned off by “family trees” – every family tree had a founding member at the top and then descended through her Little Sisters and their Little Sisters and so on. Oddly, a large portion of my family tree claims Irish heritage. We were also always considered the rowdier bunch, especially after there were only two heartily surviving trees left.
Plus, it was my friend’s birthday so that gave us one more excuse to drink and cause trouble. We’d end up at the Irish-themed pub in town and revel in merriment. Or we hung out and played Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys loud enough to annoy the neighbors (who weren’t terribly annoyed because they were having their own festivities).
After college, it kind of went back to a day for wearing green and watching Irish specials on the History channel (my favorite was about the Kennedys, specifically Joe Kennedy and his time as a bootlegger). As a result, I did learn quite a bit about the history of the holiday but not as much about how people celebrate it, around the world – if they celebrate it around the world…
I’m not sure where my draw to Ireland really began but I’ve always known, somewhere in my bones, that that was my heritage. Growing up, my dad touted German and Danish as his (and subsequently, my) ancestry and my mom was never terribly interested in finding out where she came from.
So, recently, I shelled out the ridiculous amount of money they were asking for and signed up for Ancestry.com to find out for myself. And sure enough, I found my way, on my mom’s side, to Londonderry, Northern Ireland, for three generations anyway. Then I stopped getting leaves, but there’s definitely some Irish in the blood of this little firecracker. Éire go Brách (which is Irish for Erin go Bragh *wink*).
I’ll be 100% honest when I say, I am blatantly unfamiliar with the ways St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in Ireland. I am definitely guilty of the “reinforcin’ o’ the stereotypes” that goes on in the U.S. But for me, what started out as a day to pinch people for not wearing green and developed into a day to see how green you could make your gills, has since turned into a day of goals. I’d love to visit a city with a heavy Irish population like Boston, Chicago, New York, on St. Paddy’s and see how they celebrate (of course, any excuse to travel, right?) Plus, visiting Ireland, in March or anytime I get the chance.
I am more determined than ever to find out more about my history (although slightly wary of shipping my DNA off to someone who might later turn it over to the FBI – not that I’m planning to do anything to make that a problem but who knows…).
I have also been digging into Irish history, both in Ireland and in the U.S., even more than I had before. I’m new to being Irish – at least, officially – but I’m all about being good at it. haha
Slainte and Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all out you out there in blog land.