The true meaning of St. Patrick’s Day

In this day and age, it’s easy to get distracted by the frivolous things. We’re obsessed with our cars, our jobs, money. We don’t spend enough time with our friends¬†or our family. Phone calls have replaced face-to-face social interactions and texts have replaced phone calls. With St. Patrick’s Day just around the bend, I thought it appropriate to reflect on the TRUE meaning of a holiday with substance, that reminds us to value the most important things in our lives.

Here’s what St. Patrick’s Day really means, from the perspective of a self-identified Irish-American:


Getting drunk

A true Irish-American considers the pub a sacred place. You might not like Guinness, but you’ll drink a whole boot of it on St. Patrick’s Day if someone puts it in front of you. St. Patrick’s Day, above all, is a drinking holiday.



Leaving things out for the leprechaun to f**k with

One of the most shocking things to learn as an adult was that many other people didn’t have the pleasure of getting yearly visits from the Leprechaun growing up. The Leprechaun was just as real to us wee Irish-American children as Santa was. My siblings and I would put out a little house for him made out of a shoebox and doll furniture and put Lucky Charms into a little bowl and he’d eat the cereal and knock over the furniture. The Leprechaun would then leave a trail of green glitter that led to some small gift like a pair of socks with shamrocks on them or a book about Ireland.

The same went for our elementary school classrooms. We’d all come in on the 17th excited and fully prepared to see what kind of havoc the Leprechaun wreaked this year. Sometimes he’d scribble on the chalkboard, flip the desks, or take the books off of the bookshelves.


Self-identifying as Irish

Sure, your family may hang framed crochets of Irish blessings and a Celtic cross on your wall year-round, but the Irish identity is never so strongly felt as it is around St. Patrick’s Day. My last Irish ancestor may have immigrated to the U.S. sometime in the 1800s and 23 & me might tell me I’m only 65% Irish at most but I’m a pureblooded Irish-American on March 17th. Those who have no Irish ancestors in their lineage are welcomed and encouraged to self-identify as Irish on this day.


Pulling the only green thing you own out of your closet

Not wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day is the eighth deadly sin in the Irish-Catholic tradition. If you don’t wear green on St. Patrick’s Day, it’s assumed that you’re protesting and you probably won’t be served beer (just guessing).



St. Patty’s Day parades are incomplete without the sharp, whiney battle cry of the bagpipe. The sound of a bagpipe is not one of beauty, but one of suffering. For a country that has been through so much (a moment of silence for the brethren we lost in the Great Potato Famine) it is an instrument that resonates deeply.


So much leftover corned beef

If your Irish-American family is anything like mine, there’ll be leftover corned beef on the 18th. And the 19th, and probably the 20th. Whoever buys the corned beef always overshoots on the order because, as everyone knows, the leftovers make the best meals. Corned beef hash and Rubens are staples in my household around this time of year.

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