Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Wearing of the Green

I blame my mother for my love of all things Irish. And there's more to it than the fact that there are no snakes in Ireland.

When I was a teenager, I learned Mom had no shame when it came to St.Patrick’s Day. She would go to work wearing her traditional kelly green t-shirt, dangly four leaf clover earrings, a Kiss-Me-I’m Irish badge or pin, and bright green socks. Perhaps a headband with boingy bouncy light-up shamrocks would sit atop her head, but if not, then for sure her noggin was graced by a shiny leprechaun top hat.  She was Irish and proud of it. (She was German too, but if you mentioned it, she would deny it.)

I passed her love for St. Paddy’s day onto my own children. When my girls were small, they each got a green carnation or a leprechaun toy on the holiday. Of course, we wore green, but we had enough self-pride to forgo the light-up shamrocks on our heads and the pot of gold tattoos on our cheeks.  The girls were used to Grandma’s eccentricities and the poster-sized map of Ireland in her living room. Mom and I would actually weep when we watched any Irish dancing shows. To this day I still get choked up when I see the Maxwell House “Riverdance” commercial.

Utah is not big on St. Patrick’s Day. On my first March 17 after moving here, I stopped into a local florist and asked for green carnations.  The owner looked at me like I was cuckoo.  I said, “For St. Patrick’s Day.” 

She looked at me strangely and said, “Oh, is it St. Patrick’s Day?”  How could you not know it’s St. Patrick’s Day?

I traveled to the next town, sure that the florist in my town was purely ignorant.  Seven miles away was a bigger florist. I confidently walked into the store and announced that I needed some green flowers for St. Patrick’s Day.

“We don’t carry any green flowers.” 

“ I know you probably don’t normally, but since it’s St. Patrick’s Day, I thought you would have some.”

“No. I can’t say that anyone has ever asked us for that before.”

That was the first year that Daughter Em had no St. Patrick’s Day gift. 

I’ve learned that I have to take things into my own hands.

I was feeling kind of sickly when I woke up today, with a sore throat, mild laryngitis and a thick feeling in my head.  I was not about to waste the wearing o’ the green though.  My son and I put on suitable green shirts and off we went on errands.

On our first stop I was greatly encouraged to see children dressed in green, without a reminder from me, no less.

Walmart was our next stop, where I picked up green food for our dinner. I also rounded up some crafty items so I could make it up to Em for her deprived 1998 holiday. Gnome and Hoolie were invited for dinner. Gnome had also grown up in an Irish household, full of O’Something last names and Darby O’Gill banshee nightmares. She was all pumped for a little green action.

We feasted on green mashed potatoes (Hoolie discovered she likes mashed potatoes after all, now that they’re green,) green beans, lime jello with kiwi, lemonade in green cups garnished with lime, and chocolate mint ice cream.

Public television was our hero tonight. While eating, we watched Rick Steves’s and Burt Wolf’s travelogues of Ireland, topped off with a Celtic Woman performance. Hoolie graced us with her own 6-year old’s version of Irish dancing. We had a drawing for a pot of gold that I crafted this afternoon (Hoolie was the winner,) and then took a second one over to Em’s house.

I know it’s too late for this year, but here’s how I made the pots of gold.  I did an online search and found many variations on this pot, too many to just give credit to one. I bought the terra cotta pot, gold alphabet stickers, “I’m Irish and Proud” ribbon, green sparkly tissue paper, and gold-wrapped Hershey candies at Walmart.

The round “Kiss me” cutouts were found on the website How Does She?  They can be found here.

It’s now 12:12 a.m., the Irish boy is zonked on the couch, and it's technically March 18, but I hope all of you had a very green St. Patrick’s Day! 

P.S. Cousin Jill: I know you are as insanely Irish as I am. Care to tell us what you did today?


  1. You, my dear, are an absolute star! If only every kid in the States had a Randi as a mum or a teacher, the world would be a better place! It's lovely to know we share Celtic blood, to be sure, to be sure!
    PS I LOVED your pots of gold!
    PPS Hope you're feeling better.

  2. Like your dear mother, me soul is Irish.

  3. Yes, I'm still shocked over Hoolie's enjoyment of green mashed potatoes, obviously she doesn't enjoy white potatoes, but must have hers green to find them delicious. Who knew that was all it took to solve her anti-Irish potato hatred!

  4. What's odd it that here in England...almost Ireland, we are hardly aware of St Patrick's Day.
    I have never heard of anyone wearing green or eating green things including my Irish friends, and years ago my Irish family.
    Now it's true we Brits are not big on celebrations like you guys are, but I wonder how this idea started.
    Most of the Irish just go to the pub for Guinness.
    Enlighten me please, I am intrigued.

  5. Nice fill someone in on and this fill someone in on helped me alot in my college assignement. Say thank you you seeking your information.

  6. Janice: Yay for Celtic blood! :) And thank you for the nice compliments. You are so sweet.The pots of gold were so fun to make. I suppose making anything involving chocolate ranks right up there...

    Auntie M: One of my favorite pictures is the one of the four sisters all wearing their Irish shirts. No wonder Jill and I had no hope! :)

    Juliegoose: I've tried to feed her mashed potatoes before, only to hear her remind me that she hates potatoes. Guess you'd better stock up on the food coloring, eh? :)

    Pen: That's very interesting that St. Patrick's Day is not really celebrated over there. Maybe it's because when it's all around you every day, it seems strange to celebrate something that's just part of what you live every day anyway. For us, it's a treat to remember our Irish heritage (or for others, to pretend they have it in the first place.) I do wonder how the celebration got started. I always assumed the Irish started it, but apparently that is not so. I may have to do a little research.

    Anonymous: You're welcome!

  7. Pen: I found the history of St. Patrick's Day. You had me intrigued too! Here it goes, straight from :

    History of
    Saint Patrick's Day

    Saint Patrick's Day (Irish: Lá 'le Pádraig or Lá Fhéile Pádraig), colloquially is the feast day which annually celebrates Saint Patrick (386-493), the patron saint of Ireland, on March 17. It is a national holiday in the Republic of Ireland (a bank holiday in Northern Ireland).

    Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated worldwide by Irish people and increasingly by many of non-Irish descent. Celebrations are generally themed around all things green and Irish; both Christians and non-Christians celebrate the secular version of the holiday by wearing green, eating Irish food, imbibing Irish drink, and attending parades. The St. Patrick's Day parade in Dublin, Ireland is part of a five day festival, with over 500,000 people attending the 2006 parade. The largest St. Patrick's Day parade is held in New York City and it is watched by 2 million spectators. The St. Patrick's day parade was first held in New York City on 17 March, 1756 when Irish soldiers marched through the city. Parades also take place in other Irish towns and villages. Other large parades include those in Belfast, Manchester, Birmingham, London, Coatbridge, Montreal, Boston, Chicago, Kansas City, Savannah, Pittsburgh, Denver, Sacramento, Scranton and Toronto. Large parades also take place in other places throughout Europe and the Americas, as well as Australia and Asia.

    As well as being a celebration of Irish culture, Saint Patrick's Day is a Christian festival celebrated in the Catholic Church, the Church of Ireland (among other churches in the Anglican Communion) and some other denominations. The day always falls in the season of Lent. In church calendars (though rarely in secular ones) Saint Patrick's Day is moved to the following Monday when it falls on a Sunday. It is traditional for those observing a lenten fast to break it for the duration of Saint Patrick's Day whenever March 17 falls on a Friday.

    In many parts of North America, Britain, and Australia, expatriate Irish, those of Irish descent, and ever-growing crowds of people with no Irish connections but who may proclaim themselves "Irish for a day" also celebrate St. Patrick's Day, usually by drinking alcoholic beverages (lager dyed green, Irish beer and stout, such as Murphys, Smithwicks, Harp or Guinness, or Irish whiskey, Irish Cider, Irish Coffee or Baileys Irish Cream) and by wearing at least one article of green-colored clothing.

  8. You have some lovely family traditions Randi. They'll love you forever.

  9. OK - let's see....this year we: painted our fingernails green and wore green clothes. We set a trap for the lepruchans, but they escaped and turned our toilet water green, scribbled a message in green ink on the bathroom mirror, piled up all the couch pillows in the family room into a tower, and somehow made our white milk turn green when it hit the cup! We had green fruit rollups in our lunches and special green cupcakes for dessert.
    Last year, the lepruchans turned all the chairs over and opened all the cupboards. They left shamrocks all over the house and when each kid found theirs, they got a baggie of green M&Ms.

  10. p.s. you can make your own green carnations or roses, you know...

  11. Love hearing about your traditions! I grew up in a very Irish section of the Bronx. You should see the celebrations that go on there regularly. I think they celebrate St. Patty's day over and over and over again. I love watching the parades. The kids laugh when I put on my Irish music.

  12. Still bemused Randi, despite your history link. (thanks). Im not saying there isnt the odd parade or whatever, but where I am...quite large Irish population on an individual basis "nothing".
    As one of them said:

    People outside Ireland seem to embrace St Patrick's Day with much more enthusiasm than those on the homeland do. There are worldwide celebrations, which people cheerfully embrace, whether they have a genuine Irish connection or not.

    I had an Irish g.grandmother both my mums and dads side, and we never have taken much notice. Seems the same for most people.
    Fascinating isnt it?

    Mind you I think it might be a bit of an American thing. I notice people declaring themselves "Irish American" "Italian American".
    We dont do that here either.
    We arent very good at preserving culture I think.
    But we do have (with respect) a lot more history than you. So perhaps this spurs you on, and we are a bit complacent.

    I will shut up now, and leave you with a link which sheds a bit more light on the subject...

  13. One other thing, why do you call it St "Patty's Day" over there.
    Here and in Ireland it is Patricks or "Paddy's" All Irish are Paddys.

    Sorry...dominating your thread....
    Going now.

  14. Ken: Goofy traditions are something that was passed down from my mother. It's fun to watch now as I see my daughter perpetuate her own silliness with her kids.

    Jill: You are truly an Irish diva! I will surely be lifting some of your good ideas for next year. But tell me, how did the milk turn green when it hit the glass? Was there food coloring in the bottom? Inquiring minds want to know...
    P.S. Those dastardly leprechauns!
    P.S. And yes! I learned last year as a science teacher how to make my own green carnations. I never needed those florists at all.

    septembermom: I have heard that New York is the Irish parade capital! It would be wonderful to see it sometime. So, do you do your best Riverdance imitation for the kids? :)

    Pen: It could very well be just an American thing. I am supposing it got started (although I don't know) when all the people from different cultures moved to America. Maybe it was the best they could do to keep from forgetting where they came from. I'm not sure about the "St. Patty's" part. I usually only see it in print as "Paddy" so I can't help you on that one.

    Thank you for the link. It was quite interesting!


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