America is hilarious for their wild festivals, and St. Patrick’s Day is one of the biggest now. It’s no surprise, what with the amount of Irish that have left Ireland to live in far away lands. There are close to 5 million people in Ireland, but over 70,000 million call it home according to Irish Around. Most people immigrated out of Ireland during the Potato Famine, during the 1850’s. So many people were starving that they got out of there anyway they could, to where ever they could. Risking plaque and fever on over crowded ships. Some even committed minor crimes to get banished via prison ship just to survive. They set up all over the world, but mainly Australia, Canada, and the United States. They formed thriving tight knit communities who descendants today feel as Irish as their great grandparents did 150 years ago.
Now me, I have no Irish blood in me, Hungarian as far as I know, but I have been introduced to this massive culture from my wife, who immigrated over to this crazy land just for me, and our baby girl. My wife loves to point out some of the things that Americans have done to her heritage that is just not true in Ireland at all.
One of the things that irks her the most is calling St. Patrick’s Day St. Patty’s day. Patty is a girls name in Ireland, and is never used for St. Patrick’s Day. If you are going to shorten it, then call it St. Paddy’s Day. For the obvious reason that Paddy is the shortened version of Patrick in Ireland. It is all about being Irish so let’s do it right. It’s one thing for people to accidently say it, but we have seen it printed on cards, signs, and beer advertisements.
St. Patrick’s day is considered a family holiday in Ireland, not a binge day. In America the holiday is all about getting as hammered as you can. I have been known to participate in this on occasion. But this is not how the Irish celebrate it in Ireland. Sure, you will find some people enjoying a Guinness, and it’s known as a day off from fasting for lent. Everyone looks the other way in this mostly Catholic country on this day. Enjoying a few pints of Guinness with a four-leaf clover dropped in is completely different than drinking a million car bombs and puking. As far as I know, there are no green beers in Ireland either.
Philadelphia on the other hand has gone to such extremes to make it a month long event of binge drinking called the Erin Express. For those of you not in the know, Erin Express is a tradition where every Saturday in March school buses cart around college kids to bars, starting in the morning until five at night. It’s a great chance to see the color green on every nationality, lots of skimpy outfits, and public mayhem everywhere. Now I am normally a fan of public mayhem, but even I have shied away from this event where puking and fist fights begins at 1 pm and continues for the rest of the day. Erin Express madness in Philadelphia would not only be frowned upon in Ireland, but also looked down upon completely. It’s drunken debauchery at its worst.
St. Patrick is famous for bringing Catholicism to Ireland, and let’s not forget chasing the snakes away too. Funny thing about this is there never were any snakes in Ireland. This always cracks me up. A friend of mine posted a great cartoon on the history of St. Patrick here, so enjoy.
Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in America goes all the way back to Boston, in 1737. The first recorded Parade was in New York in 1766, but Philly was not far behind in 1771.
This year we were honored to be asked to march in the parade with our friends at the Irish Immigration Center of Philadelphia. A non-profit center that has helped us out a lot with all the paper work that comes with international relationships. We were very excited to join in the fun and march down the parkway in this 245-year tradition.
The parade was a lot of fun, starting at City Hall, marching down the JFK parkway to the Art Museum. Skylar had two outfits that we bought in Dublin, a Leprechaun and an Irish Dancers outfit. She loved the parade, staring around at all the exciting things around her. This year’s theme was the 100-year anniversary of the 1916 Easter uprising, when the Irish declared independence against the British. It lasted 6 days, but got the ball rolling which eventually led to Irish Independence. There is more on the Easter Uprising here.
At the end of the parade we went to the Stokesby Mansion for some snacks and a few drinks. This place is a gorgeous historic brown stone off of Rittenhouse Square that would be great for weddings and events. The John Byrne band was playing, and the place was packed to the gills.
Speaking of weddings I plan on doing a series of blogs highlight some of the fun of planning a wedding in Ireland. I will also go into the designing aspect of a wedding, choosing a theme and branding it. The final blog in the series will be on April 15, the Duckett’s Grove Wedding.