A good day for green

Published 2:04 pm Friday, March 16, 2018

Do you sometimes think that it’s true when you hear that “All Americans are Irish on St. Patrick’s Day!”

Are you, your family, and friends among those who celebrate Irish-American culture in the Tri-State area and indeed, in the United States? Do you get into the spirit by dressing in green clothing and eating green colored food? Or, maybe spraying a green color on your hair? Singing an Irish song? Reading a book about the day and its history?

There are countless stories, jokes, and celebrations connected with the day. Some major US cities sponsor large street parades. Water is dyed green in public places in some towns.

The color green has been associated with Ireland since the 1600s, and “wearing of the green” has been a phrase here in America for generations. “Sharing of the Green” is a more recently adopted slogan where colleges bring together scholarship donors and student recipients to get acquainted and to enjoy a banquet that usually includes selected Irish foods.

Many Irish witticisms have been handed down to us. Remember this one? “A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything.” Or, “May your home always be too small to hold all your friends.” Or this one, possibly directed to writers, speakers, and students, “Say little but say it well.”

If you like Irish music, you may count “Molly Malone,” “Danny Boy,” or “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” among your favorites. In the 20th century, Bing Crosby, Connie Francis, and other artists recorded this last one and made it a more permanent part of our Irish-American culture.

From Irish soda bread to Irish stew to corned beef and cabbage, traditional St. Patrick’s Day recipes may have your family feeling “the luck of the Irish.” They may not be sure about the Leprechaun or a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but they will recognize and enjoy a cup of stew or a serving of boxty (an Irish potato pancake) or a dessert such as Mum’s Irish Apple Pie.

The music, the food, the fun, and the history combined pretty well justify the statement that “All Americans are Irish on St. Patrick’s Day!

Regardless of how you and your family and friends may observe St. Patrick’s Day, here’s an Irish blessing that’s been passed down through generations of Irish and Irish-Americans. Maybe you can share it with a new generation:

“May the road rise up to meet you,

May the wind be always at your back,

May the sun shine warm upon your face;

The rains fall soft upon your fields

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hand.”

William H. Baker, a Claiborne County, Tennessee, native and former resident of Middlesboro, may be contacted at wbaker@limestone.edu