Wednesday, March 14, 2012

St. Patrick's Day

I saw a sign for a bar the other day that said, "Everyone is Irish on St. Paddy's Day."  I am not so sure everyone is Irish, but I am sure quite a few.

St. Patrick's Day was has been celebrated in Ireland since the 9th or 10th century.  Celebrating a Roman Catholic feast day usually started with the family going to church in the morning.  It was more of a religious holiday than anything.  It certainly has changed over the years with the USA initiating the changes.

With the Irish Potato Famine of the 1840's, began a massive emigration from Ireland.  Between 1830 and 1914, almost 5 million Irish emigrated to the USA, alone.  Today, near 40 million Americans claim "Irish" as their primary ethnicity.  With the USA population in mid-2011 being 311 million that means over 1/3 of the USA population claims to be Irish.

In 1848 several independent Irish societies around New York City united their parades to form one official parade that continues today.  It is a way to connect their proud Irish patriotism with sentimental memories of the old country.

Mick Moloney's Green Fields of America
During "Tin Pan Alley"(1890-1920) days of music publishing, many an Irish ethnic tune was created by non-Irish.  My friend Mick Moloney, folklorist, did some research in this area which resulted in a magnificent album of Tin Pan Alley music targeted toward the Irish.

Other commercial entities saw a hugh earning potential in the Irish.  Many a commercial item became synonymous with St. Paddy's Day celebrations; shamrocks, shillelaghs, leprechauns and their caricature ears, hat, shoes, pot of gold, rainbow, harps, clay pipes and of course beer and whiskey.

Many of the 40 million claiming to be Irish in the USA believe drinking to be the best way to celebrate their Irish roots on St. Patrick's Day.  Non-Irish beer companies see a hugh market in St. Paddy's Day celebrations.  As do costume designers.

Excuse me!  When did costume wearing become a part of St. Patrick's Day?

http://Parade Leprechaun Adult Costume
Can you imagine wearing this on St. Patrick's Day?

Over the years I have come to appreciate traditional Irish music, song and dance.  If I go anywhere this St. Patrick's Day, it will be to the Commodore John Barry Club in West Mt. Airy, Philadelphia, PA for the ceilidh organized by The Philadelphia Ceili Group.  I'll do a few reels, a jig or two, maybe even a hornpipe.  If I'm asked I will give in to a Shoe the Donkey or a Gay Gordons.  Of course, I'll have a Guinness or Jameson Irish Whiskey to help my feet loosen up a bit.

Just to clarify, as far as I know, I don't have any Irish blood running through my veins.  Maybe the sign at the bar is correct.  Everyone is Irish on St. Paddy's Day or wants to be.

©Damyon T. Verbo - All rights reserved


  1. Just that we don't like it called St. Paddy's Day. St. Patrick is way better.

  2. Of who do you represent when you say "we"?


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