PLANET GREEN! - St. Patrick's Day around the world
Paradin' in Japan!
It’s a party all over the world! It seems more and more countries are taking part in the ‘wearin’ o’ the green’ as Earthlings from Asia to Russia and Singapore to South America gather for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
But what exactly is it they’re celebrating? I have a sneaking hunch not all of the party-goers carry the blood of the Irish Isle in their veins, nor are they all Catholic. Maybe it’s the ale. Or perhaps those spry leprechauns are simply too cute not to display in the pub.
What began as a Christian celebration of a beloved saint’s passing has transformed into a worldwide celebration of the color green, leprechauns, dark (or green) beer, shamrocks and pinching, to name a few. Many Catholics will attend church on this day to commemorate the man they call Ireland's Patron Saint. And even though much is unknown about St. Patrick, not unlike his religious counterpart St. Valentine, we celebrate with gusto nonetheless.
In Chicago, Illinois, the Journeymen Plumber’s have been coloring the great Chicago River green for over 40 years. When workers in 1961 discovered that the dye they used to locate illegal sewage discharges was a perfect shade of green for the holiday, they released 100 pounds of the vegetable dye into the river - keeping it green for a week!
Today’s environmental standards allow for 40 pounds only, which is enough to create the emerald effect for several hours.
The Man Who Dyed the River Green: Stephen M. Bailey
by Dan Lydon as told by a true Irishman
It was early December 1961 when Steve Bailey asked me to stop in to discuss plans for the 1962 St. Patrick's Day Parade. Bailey's office at Plumber's Hall was unique. His desk was a huge oval table, perhaps 30 feet long, made of burnished wood and turquoise color leather. Around the circumference were 11 unupholstered chairs, and at the head, a twelfth chair. It belonged to Bailey.
As Business Manager of the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Local Union #110, Bailey prided himself on keeping his office door open to anyone who wanted to see him.
Shortly after I entered his office his secretary told him a plumber wanted to see him about something personal. He was ushered into his office...(to be continued)
Oh those Russian Irish roots!
Layin' down roots...
If there's Irish in your blood it's a fair bet the root of your ancestry began through hardship and misfortune. Slavery, starvation, war and immigration were, unfortunately, primary reasons for Irish blood, spilled and born, in many continents. As they migrated across the globe, they took with them one of the few things they could; honor. I for one, after reading countless articles of warfare, enslavement and annhilation, have a much deeper respect for the Irish strength and unity. Is it any wonder these people know how to party?!
- The first noted parade was held in Boston Massachusetts in 1737 by the Charitable Irish Society to help instill unity and remembrance for the homeland.
- Canada's first parade took place in 1824
- Australia's Sydney Parade only 30 years but counting and last but not least, is...
- Ireland itself. St. Patrick's Day in Ireland has been a somewhat low-key event until tourism fever hit in 1995. It used to be pubs were closed and permission was required to permit the consumption of meat because the holiday falls during the time of Lent.
Lost in translation?
Just who was St. Patrick? I found this interesting during my research. The man of the moment may actually be one of two priests according to historical linguist scholar, Thomas Francis O’Rahilly (1883-1953).
Traditionally, the St. Patrick we celebrate was a Brit named Maewyn Succat, later named St. Patrick. O’Rahilly proclaimed the Saint we so often raise a toast to was actually a hagiographical figure of two men - Succat and Palladius. (A study in this theory could prove arduous and bewildering, as it involves a conglomerate of multiple cultures with differing dialects, several mythological cycles and many religious insertions.)
But here is the common story told...
It was after his kidnapping to the Isle at the age of sixteen that the Scottish-born Succat began praying avidly while tending his masters' sheep and claimed the spirit moved through him. While captive he learned the Gaelic dialect as well as the Druidic system of belief, mainly due to his master being a high priest. After his escape six years later, he devoted his life to God and was divinely ordered to return to Ireland and convert pagans to Christianity. The rest is history, with a little well-intentioned myth and metaphor...
Hold on to your green Sapporo, it's the Japanese comin' to party! Yes, that busy little island celebrates BIG TIME! From Tokyo to Yokohama they've been parading since 1992 thanks to Irish Ambassador to Japan, Mr. James Starkey and the Irish Network Japan.
One of the most surprising celebrations to form most recently is in China! For an incredible five days, Shanghai will observe Ireland Week with art exhibits, a parade and street carnival, Irish author readings and more. But do they party party? Hey, it's Irish we're speakin' 'bout! There are several Irish bars in Shanghai alone. How did this all come about with only a force of roughly 300 Irish citizens, at last count? There's something about those powerful Irish roots.
Then there's Irish Seoul. South Korea's celebration keeps pace with the best of them. With Irish food, drinks, dancing and music, as well as a parade, thousands of spectators take part each year. The beauty of it? Organizers say it helps everyone understand a little more about each other, forming closer friendships and internationalism. No blarney here!
For those not yet remembering, green is the healing color. A powerful color symbol to every religion in the world in one thought form or another (seek it in the Holy Bible, the Holy Qur'an and the Buddhist teachings) and also resonates to the fifth note 'F'. It is the color of the heart chakra...
Let's Get It Started!
Every micro brewery will be pouring or producing a beverage fit for the occasion. Green food dye will be hard to come by and Guiness and Bailey's will be prominent guest names on most party lists. If you can find an Irish band playing somewhere it'll set the mood completely. And don't forget the toast! (You'll look very cool if you can say one in Gaelic...uh, good luck)
Irish fare needn't be the color green entirely. Traditionally, corned beef and cabbage is served, but there's a bounty of recipes to pick from. Claiming Irish agriculture to be relatively free of antibiotics, chemicals and ocean pollutants, food artisans across the Isle are reigniting tastes of their homeland, opening everything from organic cooking schools to local grower's markets, which were nearly abandoned during the mid 20th century.
Ok, so how did pinching come into play? (Here's a very interesting answer) For those who don't know how to play, anyone caught without something green visible on the body will be pinched! And make sure it's visible, unless it's just you and your sweetie playing, right?
"With or Without You"...they shall party!
A powerful little land
Ireland is a wee isle of maximum influence. Just 174 miles (280 km) wide and 302 miles (486 km) long, about the size of the state of Indiana in the US. It's Europe's third largest island and 20th in the world. It's split into two areas - the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, after a final confrontation called Easter Rising.
Population: over 4, 000,000
Dublin is the capital, with the Euro its official currency and English spoken by the majority, although 5% speak the ancient Gaelic language.
Ah yes. These people have been jiggin' and drummin' their way around the world, spreading the Irish unity in their own conspicuous ways.
U2 is a catalyst for change when it comes to aid and unity around the globe. They've been one of the longest lasting rock bands in existence, and who can forget their deep Irish roots with a song like Sunday Bloody Sunday still payed before sold out crowds. It ain't a party without U2 playing!
Irish dancing was never hotter than before Michael Flatley's fast and furious foot work moved across the stages of the world. Never before had the world witnessed such tightly performed foot dancing at tempos to set fire to a fiddle. The women are beautiful and fit, the men are sexy and swift. They've ignited interest in Irish dance lessons around the world.
These entertainers are conquerors in their own right. But it's a much more enjoyable way to surrender, don't you think?
The partying doesn't stop at Texas! As a matter of fact, you can grab a stool at your pick of Irish pubs in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Bermuda and Mexico. And they're all making cheers with the rest of the world
Even Dubai, in United Arab Emirates, has a dedicated team of Irish men and women in the Dubai Irish Society keeping the tradition alive and well, putting together a grand gala. There's nothing more impactful than uniting in the Middle East!
So as you can see, from Dublin to Dubai, the world unites for one day - multi-national, multi-religious, for the joy of it!