St Patrick's Day
March 17, 2023
As part of our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives, we strive to highlight cultural holidays and occasions that shed light on the fabric of our individual cultural makeup. Now I know what you're thinking "How did Rre manage to suck the fun out of St. Patricks Day?!!" Now before you pinch me for not wearing green, let me share with you the origins of St. Patrick's day in the context of a cultural celebration.As much as we enjoy getting dressed up in green, heading out to our favorite Irish Pub, and knocking back green beer, the roots of St Patrick's day are based on three basic tenants:
- Honoring the religious legacy of St. Patrick
- Acknowledging the plight of Irish independence and liberation in the face of European imperialism and colonialism
- Celebrating Irish cultural pride in the face of discrimination and anti-immigration hatred in America
St. Patrick was a Catholic former slave who sought to teach and spread Catholicism even in the face of intense persecution for his beliefs. His feast day is observed on 17 March, the supposed date of his death. It is celebrated in Ireland and among the Irish diaspora as a religious and cultural holiday. In the dioceses of Ireland, it is both a solemnity and a holy day of obligation. Most of us are familiar with the Irish potato famine, although some of us may not know that this famine was a direct product of British landowning colonial power. Facing starvation, over a million Irish fled to America in the hopes of escaping English persecution and finding a better life. Arriving in the United States, many Irish immigrants were seen as lazy or accused of "stealing" jobs from deserving Americans. Many St. Patrick's Day parades in cities like Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles were intended to demonstrate Irish-American pride and solidarity. When we think of green and St. Patrick’s Day today, many of us might jump to “good luck” and “four-leaf clovers.” But in reality, green is connected to St. Patrick’s Day because it symbolizes Irish independence and individuality. When the Irish in Ireland battled for their freedom from the English, they eventually chose to wear green because it stood out so fiercely against the English red. A former slave becomes an icon because of his refusal to sacrifice his beliefs. A diaspora of immigrants persecuted in the face of prejudice gravitating toward symbols of cultural identity. These themes are interchangeable when viewed in the context of our shared human experience. Have fun tonight, be safe, and celebrate Irish freedom, pride, and community!