There’s the saying “Everyone’s Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day.” From Dublin to Dubai and Moscow to Mumbai, countless fun-seekers don green top hats, eat potatoes and cabbage while guzzling down hearty pints of Guinness — all in the celebration of Ireland.
But in truth all the talk of shamrocks, sheep and leprechauns — not to mention drink-
fueled donnybrooks — makes folks back in Ireland cringe just a little; the country’s national day sounds like a gaudy global event, rather than an authentic local festival.
So, in an effort to get ‘Paddy’s Day’ back to its roots on home turf, here’s a glimpse at how Ireland celebrates the much-loved holiday:
Saint Patrick:?Many forget that March 17 is a Catholic holiday celebrating the mythic figure who brought Christianity to the island.
The real St. Patrick wasn’t even Irish; he was born in Britain. At age 16, he was kidnapped and sent to Ireland where he endured years of hardship tending sheep. But one day, as folklore says, a voice told him to become a priest and preach Christianity to the people. Today, it is customary for Irish people to attend mass on the 17th and thank the Lord for all Patrick did.
Parades: Every town across the country hosts their very own street parade — and the evening news on Irish national TV does a round-up of all of them. Many of them are just an excuse for charities to proudly march down Main Street, but the ones in the big cities do show off colorful artistic floats and marching bands. Most young Irish twentysomethings would never dare be seen wearing a bright green leprechaun hat and waving a miniature Irish flag at a parade — it’s more the reserve for kids, their parents and tourists.
Drink: The “real” Irish would of course enjoy a tipple on St. Patrick’s Day — after all, it’s not a working day! Friends generally meet up and go on a daylong “session” (i.e. binge drinking), with anything Irish, be it Guinness beer or Jameson whiskey.
Naturally, there are more Gardai (Ireland’s police force) out on the street than any other day, to quell any drunken buffoonery. But the real truth is that they are out and about, rounding up groups of naive 12- and 13-year-olds with a whiff of alcohol on them.
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