Hooray, Hooray! It's St. Patrick's Day!
I was born and raised in Massachusetts, where they pour green dye into the Charles river so it's green for the day...not that anyone really notices from it's usual murky brown, but it's the thought that counts. Everyone has green teeth from drinking green beer and they rush about shouting "Erin Go Braugh!" and I bet if you asked them, they'd have no clue what that actually meant. On this day, everyone is a friend when in the bar.
I always felt a bit of a fraud when taking part in the festivites, I have to admit. For one thing I'm not Irish, for another, I'm not Catholic, and yet from a very young age I was forced and compelled to take part in celebrating; and had no idea why.
I have a very clear memory of being in the 4th grade. My maths teacher was Mrs. O'Brien, a very petite, tough, funny red haired woman who was probably first generation American. she went mad for St. Patrick's Day and offered anyone who wore green on the day 20 bonus points on thier homework. I had forgotten it was St. Patrick's day, and didn't have any green on, so I didn't get any bonus points. I was the only kid in the class with nothing green...even the Kowalski kid had green ribbons in her hair. Mrs. O'Brien spoke to me in private about not "joining in" enough and that I should pay better attention to such things. For years after that humiliation, I would avoid the woman at all costs; shopping at the weekends I would run into other aisles so she wouldn't see me, or duck down alleys if she was walking down the pavement.
I now live in Scotland. St. Patrick's Day, is just another day. There are no parties, no green beer and no green rivers. The other thing I came to realise when I moved here is; All the U.K. countries have a patron Saint. Wales has St. David, England has St. George, Scotland has St. Andrew. All these Saints have a different history and reason for being a Saint. I can't help but wonder why folks back home never bothered with these Saints? I would've been proud to wear purple and a thistle (if I could find a thistle...) on November 30th to show my Scottish heritage, or Red and a Rose on April 23rd to show my English side. I'm not Welsh, but I'd understand all those folks with thier daffodils on March 1st were showing thier allegience to Wales; thier ancient home.
I feel I was cheated out of having my own little celebrations and showing where I came from. I was cheated out of having pride in my lineage which is just a few hundred miles east of Ireland. I didn't have to be ashamed for not wearing green or not being Irish and Mrs. O'Brien should be mightily ashamed of what she did and how she made me feel. I bet if I asked her if she knew when St. Andrew's day was she wouldn't know. I can't deny her bonus points on her math homework, but I can as a person "You lose 20 Humanity Points, you Witch!". My Ex-boyfriend Mike should be ashamed because he introduced me to his mother with "Anna" added as a middle name so she wouldn't know I wasn't Catholic.
I do offer my warmest affections to anyone who will be celebrating St. Patrick's Day (I know there's plenty of you out there...) enjoy yourselves. And I will make a promise to you all, that when November 30th rolls around, I will have very special, St. Andrew's Day post and I'm going to make an effort to bring hope and knowledge to those of you who, like me, suffer with an inferiority complex due to a lack of Irishness. I would also invite you to seek out your own origins as every country seems to have a patron saint, and histroy to learn and be scared by.
Éireann go Brách = Ireland Forever. Pronunciation: /Erin guh brawk/
Now you know.