OF BAGPIPES, PARADES AND GREEN BEER…

Today, I will be sharing some memories of  St Patrick’s Day and the wearing of the green.  This comes a day early, as I will not be making an entry tomorrow.  Even though I am not of Irish heritage, on March 17th each year I morph into a wee Irish Lassie and rummage through my closet for something green to wear before I head out for the festivities.   But first, a short history. 

The Chicago River is dyed green each year for the St Patrick's Day celebration, shown here in 2005.

St. Patrick’s Day is observed by people of Irish ancestry as well as non-Irish.  It is a Catholic religious observance that is held each year on March 17th.  Activities include attending mass or service and watching parades, attending céilithe, wearing shamrocks, wearing green, drinking Irish beer and Irish whiskey, eating traditional foods and generally having an all around good time.  

The Irish Society of Boston organized what was not only the first Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in the colonies but the first recorded Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in the world in 1737. (The first parade in Ireland did not occur until 1931 in Dublin.) The parade in Boston involved Irish immigrant workers marching to make a political statement about how they were not happy with their low social status and their inability to obtain jobs in America.

New York’s first Saint Patrick’s Day Parade was held in 1762 by Irish soldiers in the British Army. The first celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day in New York City was held at the Crown and Thistle Tavern in 1766.  The parades were held as political and social statements because the Irish immigrants were being treated unfairly.  Irish patriotism in New York City continued to soar and the parade in New York City continued to grow. Irish aid societies like Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and the Hibernian Society were created and they marched in the parades too. Finally when many of these aid societies joined forces in 1848 the parade became not only the largest parade in the United States but one of the largest in the world.

Bead Set available in my shop

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated all over the United States.  Seattle and other cities paint the traffic stripe of their parade routes green. Chicago dyes its river green. Indianapolis dyes its main canal green. Savannah, Georgia dyes its downtown city fountains green. Missouri University of Science and Technology – St Pat’s Board Alumni –  paint 12 city blocks kelly green with mops before the annual parade. In Jamestown, New York the Chadakoin River (a small tributary that connects Conewango Creek with its source at Chautauqua Lake) is dyed green each year.  Columbia, SC dyes its fountain green in the area known as Five Points (a popular collegiate location near the University of South Carolina). In the Northeastern United States, peas are traditionally planted on Saint Patrick’s Day.

Well, enough official history.  Now for a little unofficial history.  *wink*  I remember one particular St Paddy’s Day quite clearly, or at least I remember parts of it.  I was fifteen years old and my best friend Carol (who is nothing but Irish) took me along with her family up to Huntington, which is a very Irish town, to see the parade. 

After we attended mass at St. Patrick’s Church we found a good vantage spot, along with scores of other people, on Main Street,enjoying the early March sun and waiting for the parade, growing more excited by the minute.

Everyone was in high spirits, and there were plenty of cute boys hanging around for Carol and I to flirt with since we’d met up with her Aunt Peg and Uncle Sean, and they had three sons – Adam, Sean Jr, and John.  We were all close in age and they had their friends with them, and Carol and I were the only girls, so we were getting lots of nice attention.  

We were just hanging around, and then suddenly we could hear the wail of the bagpipes and the boom-boom-boom of the bass drums getting louder and closer.  Before long, the parade was passing by and here came the Huntington Hibernians,  who have parading in Huntington for 77 years now, marching down the road in all their pride and glory. Their bagpipes were awesome, and very L-O-U-D, and quite THE spectacle!! 

After the parade, everyone headed over to Finnegan’s for a traditional meal of  corned beef and cabbage, potatoes and green beer. I remember that there was loud Irish music playing, and people were dancing jigs and drinking green beer and Irish whiskey and having a generally uninhibited, loud and good time.   Unfortunately, I don’t remember much more than that, except that when the memory comes to me it’s an exceptionally good one.

This year, the parade up in Huntington will kick off just north of the Huntington Train Station along New York Avenue before turning west onto Main Street ending at Saint Patrick’s Church.  Gosh, it’s been many moons since I went to that parade.  You get busy with life, you know?  And you forget about things that once meant something to you.  Well, this year for some reason the bagpipes are calling me. Perhaps it’s time for a trip back into yesterday. Who says you can’t go home again?  

 
  
 

 

 

 

this bracelet is available in my shop

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Kevin Roache
    May 28, 2011 @ 06:21:04

    Very interesting. There is an annual St Patrick’s day parade in Manchester,UK where every true Irishman/woman marches. It my wish to bring out the Irish in every person who can lay claim to having roots in Ireland.

    Reply

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