Happy St Patrick’s Day, so of course I dress the Cross of St Brigid. I’ve done this before, but this time I wanted to add some color. I drew this with pencils and colored pencils. Growing up this cross was hanging in a few places, in my Grandma’s house, and in our own home. More than because my sister is named Brigid, though I know her adornments have something to do with that connection. Also because there are three patron saints of Ireland, and Patrick, the most famous, wasn’t born there. As the Irish PM reminded us today, he was an immigrant. Brigid and Columba were born there, and Brigid is the only one who also died there. I love the cross too, the interwoven palms that form the cross. It’s simple and meaningful, like my favorite things of the culture Grandma raised us with.
Celebrating St Paddy’s up here in Canada is interesting. Catholicism is the dominant religion in Canada, a stark contrast to the USA. Granted, a good percentage of those Catholics are French. Yet the Irish descendent population is much smaller than the USA, and that is counting the big Irish population in Quebec. So Paddy’s day is celebrated pretty much everywhere (in my experience the most thin was in Nova Scotia, gee, wonder why? :) ).
Getting into any Irish pub is tricky. Last year, we didn’t make it, this year we went during the day, after lunch, and still had to wait 30-45minutes for a table. It wasn’t too bad though, the beer was flowing and the pipes and drums were playing. I did notice however that the pub was pretty generic in the sense that they had nothing about counties, religion, or even football clubs. Many patrons and workers seemed to think of the day as green mardi gras. It’s great to have that excitement, but sometimes it is a bit strange to see. Coming from NY where Paddy’s day is a bit different, celebrated by all, but a lot less irreverent to the culture behind it. At one point today while talking with a friend of mine after she commented on all my green, saying I looked Irish today*. I laughed about being Irish every day, a stranger who seemed to want in on our conversation says “I’m actually Irish.” I nod and say “Yeah, me too. County Armagh.” He stopped, stammered, and said “Oh, I’m like maybe 10 percent.” I smiled and said nothing, it’s not a competition or a one up game. Just sometimes people remember heritage on a party day, and that’s fine.
*Grandma used to say, if you can’t tell I’m Irish by looking at me, you don’t deserve to know. And that always made me giggle. Granted she looked more stereotypical Irish than me, and wasn’t as black Irish looking, and well when asked, she really was Irish, just not descended. In truth, when people ask me what I am I say American. Especially now that I’m an immigrant and my cultural identity is more American than anything else, and I think that would make Grandma really happy. She wanted to raise her children as American, not Irish. So while I was raised with the culture of my immigrant grandparents (Irish and German) my culture is American. Many Americans don’t see that as a culture, but when you leave America, you become very aware of it.