The wonderful part about our country is our diversity. America is the proverbial melting pot of many cultures and religions. Every March 17th we honor and celebrate the Irish among us and Saint Patrick, who is the patron saint of Ireland. The very first St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated in America in 1737. It was organized by the Charitable Irish Society of Boston and included a feast and a religious service.
As we celebrate the Saint Patrick’s Day, let us keep in mind the following statistics. There are some 33 million Americans who have full or partial ancestry from Ireland. In 2015 the entire population of Ireland was 4.7 million. Therefore, there are more Irish-Americans in America than Irish in Ireland — 6-fold more!
There are many ways to share in celebrating of this day. There are special religious services being held. There are street parades. There are social gatherings taking place in many Senior Centers and Community Centers, where Irish culture and heritage are discussed, and perhaps a traditional Irish meal of corned beef and cabbage is served. The Saint Patty’s Day celebrations are taking place during the time of Lent, but Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking of alcoholic beverages are lifted for a day. Some cities organize concerts of Irish folk music or host Irish step dancing known as Riverdance.
Is there a Saint Patrick’s Day parade taking place in your hometown? If there is, and you are planning to visit one, invite your Senior Irish-American family member or neighbor to come along. Reach out and chat with them. You will pay them a compliment just by sharing with them your understanding of the origin of this holiday and asking them for their thoughts. Feel free to share with them the following short traditional Irish blessing:
“Dear Lord, give me a few friends who will love me for what I am, and keep ever burning before my vagrant steps the kindly light of hope… And though I come not within sight of the castle of my dreams, teach me to be thankful for life, and for time’s olden memories that are good and sweet. And may the evening’s twilight find me gentle still.”
They say that on Saint Patrick’s Day everyone’s Irish!
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!