St. Patrick’s Day the American way

By Paul Lilly
March 27, 2008

St. Patrick’s Day appears to be associated worldwide with a number of things, the foremost being an association with all things Irish. The phrase “everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day” does appear to be true as St. Patrick ‘s Day celebrations are held in every corner of the globe from Ireland to America to Argentina.

Right or wrong, the day also seems to be celebrated by having a beer or four. It is for these reasons that I have decided to write a few lines to provide a better insight into the feast day, and indeed the man that was St. Patrick.

Most people will be surprised to learn that St. Patrick himself was not actually Irish. He is widely believed to have come from Roman Britain where he was captured by Irish raiders and brought to work as a sheep farmer in Ireland. He later escaped home to his family, yet returned to Ireland to preach the word of God.

He is widely acclaimed as being the man who brought Christianity to Ireland and it was for this reason that the 17th of March, the day on which he died, was made the national holiday for Irish people and the world wide day for celebrating all things Irish.

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in many ways. Most people who have ever celebrated it would agree that it is indeed “one hell of a party.” Back home, I celebrate the day for the most part with friends and family. This normally begins with a trip to mass, as indeed the day is one of Catholic obligation in Ireland. Then, we usually travel to Bundoran Co. Donegal, a small seaside town to see the St Patrick ‘s Day parade.

Celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in the north of the country is sporadic as most Protestants do not celebrate the holiday, and thus many Catholics have to travel southwards to celebrate the feast of the patron saint.

After the parade, my friends and I usually go out and celebrate in traditional Irish style. It was thus of great interest to me to see how St. Patrick’s day would be celebrated in a different country, especially in the United States.

What to do for St. Patrick ‘s Day was something I had thought a bit about. I turned down the chances of going to Boston and New York with some of my Irish friends, instead to celebrate the day here at Cabrini and attending the festivities in Conshohocken. Many American friends of mine thought I was crazy but I reasoned with myself that I spent plenty of St. Patrick’s Days with Irish friends and this was perhaps my only opportunity to spend it with Americans.

Going to the parade in Conshocoken was a great experience. I thought it was great the way in which Americans in even a small town celebrated the day in such a fine way. One could almost be forgiven for feeling at home with such a fine display.

The parade was good, the people were friendly and the beer was flowing. As we say back home the “craic was ninety” which basically means it was one hell of a good time.

After the parade we continued to celebrate and a great day was had by all. St .Patrick’s Day 2008 will not be one I forget. It is definitely a fond memory of my time here.

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Paul Lilly

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