A few years ago, we were walking down a street by the Boston Park. It was a weekend afternoon, during the first few days of a brand new spring. The green was everywhere – the dewy, translucent green that graces the new sprigs of life blooming on the bosom of the earth as it emerges from the blanket of cold. It was a beautiful day – the kind of day that looks crisp, crackling, new, and sharp – the way it would were you looking through a pair of newest correction glasses at the optometrist.
There were lot of people out on the street. What struck me in particular was that everyone seemed to be wearing green. Perplexed, I gazed around and all I could see was lots and lots of people wearing lots and lots of green. Running, jumping, walking, trotting, sitting – all in some shade of green. And it was just not the clothes alone, but other things too. Some were sporting green headbands with ears projecting from them, or had tons of green shiny beads hanging around their neck, and a few even had earrings that sparkled and bounced off light. Green shoes, green wrist bands, green wrist-lets, green sweatshirts, green nail paint – even the dogs had green scarves.
There was a lot of noise and exuberance in the air. Green mass of people were gathered in groups small and large, around large tables and barbecue grills. Children, all wearing similar shades of green, chorused their fun. Must be some local team, I mused. Still, that did not explain why there were so many of them, of different shapes and sizes, all in different places and there did not seem to be any other team in sight.
A couple of years later, another friend of mine, this time in California, invited us over to a casino to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. “Wear something green,” she said.
And it all fell into place.
Since then, we have a new day to celebrate – St. Patrick’s Day. We do a lot of things green – wear green clothes, eat green food etc. I remember going into a store especially to buy green jewelry once. Obviously, my curiosity got better of me, and I had to know – why green? Why not, say, purple, or red? Turns out that St. Patrick preferred to use Shamrock, a young sprig of clover, as a tool in his teachings, and eventually when the Irish in US started celebrating their roots, green was their color of choice.
Once I watched an interesting documentary on TV, and it said that when the Irish came into US in large numbers right after the great famine to escape starvation, they were despised and ostracized by other communities for their uneducated ways and different religious beliefs. Their celebrations were often mocked and they were depicted as cartoons or monkeys in illustrations. Their assimilation into mainstream society became an uphill challenge. All that changed when this intelligent community recognized their voting power. They organized themselves into strong voting blocks, known as ‘green machine’, and that made people sit up and take notice of them. Soon, the Irish parades became a show of strength, and the political aspirants fell over each other to appease this new ‘kid’ on the block. As the Irish began spreading across the country, so did their traditions.
I think Saint Patrick’s Day captures all that is right with this beautiful country, which lets in immigrants of such varied cultures with their different traditions, makes Americans out of them, and yet lets them keep what’s theirs in such unique ways.
Some ‘green’ recipes from my blog:
So Dear Readers, did you hear of St. Patrick’s Day before? Do you celebrate it in any special ways?