Ode to an Irish Holiday
By Meghan F on Monday, March 7, 2011
On the morning of March 17th, approximately two years ago, I awoke to the pounding instrumentals of “The Blood of Cuchulainn” by Mychael Danna. Also known as the “Boondock Saints Theme”, this song became something of an anthem on a day that was truly unforgettable.
Even though it’s still officially winter time, the sun always has an inexplicable way of choosing St. Patrick’s Day to make its comeback. Either that or we trick ourselves into believing that it’s warm enough to trade down jackets for bright green t-shirts. Pride and adrenaline have a numbing effect when you feel as though no one could possibly be more Irish than you are.
In Montreal, people gather every year to witness and participate in the longest-running St. Patrick’s Day parade in North America. Toronto also has a large parade and for a brief period of time, from 1919-1927, the Maple Leafs were actually called the Toronto St. Patricks. It’s hard to believe that the hockey team could ever have worn green, but it’s a fact. In Newfoundland and Labrador St. Patrick’s Day is an official holiday, observed by the public to commemorate the province’s Irish heritage.
While each of these places has its appeal, I awoke a couple of years ago in none of them. Instead, I stepped out onto my good friend’s rooftop patio in Halifax, Nova Scotia, a city celebrated by post-secondary students for its most bars per capita. As I stood on “The Porch” – a VIP lounge on these occasions – I took a moment to watch the green procession making its way downtown. It was quite a spectacle, and yet I can’t help but wonder if many of those students, with Bailey’s in their travel mugs, actually knew why they were partying.
For those who don’t know, March 17th is a religious feast day, and the anniversary of St. Patrick’s death in the 5th century AD. St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was a British priest who made it his mission to compel and convert the Irish people to Christianity. St. Patrick’s Day has been celebrated by the Irish for more than a thousand years, and occurs during the Christian season of Lent. Traditionally, religious families were allowed to break their fasts and celebrate by drinking, dancing, and feasting on Irish bacon and cabbage. Today it has become a more widespread celebration of Irish culture.
St. Patrick’s Day festivities are sometimes criticized by those who would have them restricted to people of true Irish descent. Authorities – whoever they may be – are often wary of the tendency people have, especially students, towards overindulgence. While it’s never a good idea to overdo it, a fridge full of Alexander Keith’s and a patio full of “chillers” can make for an extremely memorable and worthwhile post-secondary experience. Speaking as someone with an Irish heritage (although that might be a stretch), I believe that St. Patrick’s Day provides us with an excuse to take a night off from being at the library, and to enjoy the company of our good, would-be-Irish friends.
As long as you understand why this cultural celebration occurs, I strongly urge you break from your daily routine in order to try something new.
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