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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

It's St. Patrick's Day and this means that thousands upon thousands of pots of Corned Beef, with or without cabbage, are bubbling away on stoves across America.  I know that my house is filled with the spicy smell of our pseudo-Irish dinner.  And for dessert?  Shamrock shaped cookies from the 1963 Betty Crocker Cooky Book and chocolate-chip mint ice cream.  Irish?  Decidedly not, but certainly green enough to please to pickiest leprechaun.

St. Patrick's Day is a unique holiday; one in which we celebrate a specific and unique culture.  I can think of no other day in the American calendar when we focus so intently on one of the many nationalities that make up our melting pot of a country.  If you ask me, that's a shame.  Imagine if we put as much emphasis on days that represented the wonderful cultural heritage of the many other groups that have helped to make this such a  vibrant and diverse nation.  It would be a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our differences while unifying us in the common joy of discovering and honoring other traditions.  If you ask me, diversity is, at the very least, dapper and dreamy.

Despite the lofty ideals listed above, let's not forget that St. Patrick's Day has more than its fair share of traditions in no way related to Ireland.  My children will be excited to have their milk or limeade dyed a vibrant green, and millions are draining tall glasses of emerald-tinted beer with shamrock designs in the foam.  And then there are the displays of Kelly green and white felt hats (a la the Cat in the Hat), long ropes of shiny, green plastic bead and shamrock necklaces and endless shirts, aprons, ties, buttons and baseball caps begging one to, "Kiss Me, I'm Irish".  America really knows how to celebrate a saint!

St. Patrick's Day is also a time to reflect on some favorite Irish songs and Ireland-based movies.  There's Danny Boy, Tu Ra Lu Ra Lu Ra, Sweet Rosie O'Grady and, of course, When Irish Eyes are Smiling to sing and listen to.  Few people know, and perhaps fewer can imagine that, among his family, President Kennedy was known to sing these quintessential Irish songs at family gatherings.

For dapper and dreamy Irish films there's The Quiet Man, or any other film that shows off the fiery hair, and spirit, of the lovely Maureen O'Hara.  As a little aside, O'Hara's autobiography 'Tis Herself is one of the best memoirs I've read...  try to find a copy.  And, as you now know from the above link, she even sings!

And so, after writing this mish mash of thoughts on things Irish, I wish you all a Happy St. Patrick's Day!

A British tradition for St. Patrick's Day...
For years and years, the late Queen Mother presented
bouquets of shamrocks to the Irish Guards
and their mascot.

Today, for the first time, the new
Duchess of Cambridge took her place.
For how many decades will she be doing this?

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