Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Another long lapse between posts - three months. Sheesh. Sorry. We'll try to do better.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

St. Croix celebrated, as it does every year, with a parade through Christiansted last Saturday. It’s kind of amazing, a combination of Irish and Island that has to be seen to be believed. Sort of "Erin go Bra-less.

I covered it for The Source; here is the story and here’s the video video I shot that went up on the site. For some reason my videos lately aren’t uploading well. This looked crystal clear and sharp when I made it on the computer, but it looks murky and fuzzy on the site. Gotta figure that out.

An old friend whose parents were both from the Auld Sod used to say with scorn that he never celebrated St. Patrick’s Day because, “I’m Irish 365 days a year. St. Patrick’s is amateur night.” And it was he who first pointed out to me the biggest Irish myth in America -- the song “Danny Boy.” It’s purportedly an old, traditional Irish tune sung from a father to his son going off to war and expressing patriotism and love of Ireland. In truth, my friend pointed out, the song was written by an English lawyer, and it’s a love song between a woman and a man. The lawyer actually supplied alternate lyrics for a man to sing, “Oh Ellie girl.”

As it happens, the song was written in 1910, so it’s exactly 100 years old now, not some timeless Irish ballad but one more example of British cultural imperialism. With which the Irish are of course intimately familiar. If you want to sing a real, traditional Irish ballad, try “Eileen Aroon.” Dates back at least 400 years.

Still, I think Dave took things a bit too seriously. St. Patrick’s Day is just fun, and if people whose family came from Poland or China or Nigeria or Brazil want to talk in corny Irish accents or drink green beer and eat cabbage, well, what’s wrong with that? I’m part Irish myself – from the Piper family, I’ve been told although I have no way of knowing if it’s accurate that that part of the family tree once hailed from Limerick – and it seems if the world wants to celebrate Irish heritage, even if they get a lot of it wrong, where’s the harm?

Seems to me it’s a good excuse for a party in a month where typically there’s not a lot to celebrate. And on St. Croix, they know how to celebrate in style.

1 comment:

D said...

Because Easter is celebrated on a lunar/solar schedule, Easter and the beginning of Lent can fall in a fairly wide range of dates. What is constant is that St. Patrick's Day is always in Lent, and therefore always supplies American Catholics (historically with Irish Bishops) with an excuse to party during the Lenten season.