As an international student from Ireland, I was very excited to spend my first St. Patrick’s Day in the U.S.
Ireland definitely lives up to its rambunctious, alcoholic-fueled stereotype on March 17, but there are also lots of cultural events organized.
I normally start the day by going to a Gaelic football game, and then the parade, before we let the antics begin!
When it comes to Patty’s Day, America goes big.
I loved the displays of green everywhere, the celebrations of Irish American heritage and all the decorations around the dorms and campus buildings.
Knowing that the day is celebrated here, too, is like having a little bit of home with me.
With the Chicago River being dyed green, the events across American cities and the Irish Prime Minister walking with his partner in the New York Parade, there were a lot of celebrations and traditions that I got to hear about for the first time.
This St. Patrick’s Day was also a super unusual one for my whole family because my parents were celebrating in Spain, my sister in Scotland, and my brother in London.
It was pretty cool for each of us to see how Irish heritage is celebrated across the world.
However, I think the day in America is lacking in the cultural aspect somewhat.
Surprising to most, we abroad do more than just drinking on St. Patrick’s Day!
Most Americans don’t realize that St. Patrick wasn’t even Irish, he was Welsh.
Brought to Ireland as a slave, he was forced to work in awful conditions for many years before eventually escaping.
He later returned to Ireland after dreams called him to aid the downtrodden there as a Christian missionary. Thus the root of our celebration of the Feast of St. Patrick lies in his bringing of Christianity to Ireland.
Furthermore, we have a lot of weird legends about him, including the myth that he drove the snakes out of Ireland, defeated Druids with magic, and carried shamrocks to explain the Holy Trinity to the people. (That last one might be true.)
Next year I’d love to tell his full story and organize an event like an Irish dancing lesson or hurling game to give Americans a taste of real Irish culture.
The SAC/MAC event was pretty awesome, though, and naturally I killed it with that Irish trivia Kahoot.
(They probably should not have allowed me to play because I was raking in those Applebee’s vouchers!)
Overall, it was a really fantastic day, and it’s just nice to see that the Irish heritage that so many Americans claim means something to them. Lá Fhèile Pádraig!