Chicagoans celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

Sure Chicago throws an incredible party for St. Patrick’s Day.

The river is dyed green.  There are big back to back parades.

But really…..Do you know why people celebrate?

“I don’t”

“In America it’s green and green beer and shamrocks and so, I don’t know”

“I have no idea, and I’m Irish.”

Do you know what St. Patrick’s Day is for?

“It’s for people to get drunk and go out drinking and have excused to have hangovers on Monday.”

“St. Patrick scared the snakes out of Ireland many centuries ago on this day.”

That is correct.  Despite the crazy outfits and mass quantities of alcohol.  St. Patrick’s Day means a whole lot more.

“In Ireland it’s a religious holiday and all of us here and the 1st generation Irish see Ireland as a much culturally diverse celebration time of year, than just beer and festivities like that.”

St. Patrick was actually born in Great Britain. He turned to religion after being kidnapped as a young teen and brought to Ireland, later bringing Christianity to the people.

Don’t get them wrong, today at Chicago’s Irish American Heritage Center, there is plenty of music, traditional foods, beer, and dancing to go around.

Our St. Patrick’s Day celebration is not just a pub celebration it’s a cultural celebration of dance, authors and music.  A little bit different than some of the other places in the city.

Here, still lots of green.  A popular Irish color because.

“Like in Chicago you wait 5 minutes and the weather will change it’s the same way in Ireland but all of that contributed to a beautiful green landscape.”

But actually the official color of St. Patrick is blue.

And you won’t find many Irish sporting a leprechaun today.

The first generation Irish in this country don’t see that as anything other than a mascot that was developed by someone to maybe promote the holiday more.

But you will see more and more people claiming Irish heritage. “We’re all Irish on St. Paddy’s day.”

And a lot of us really are.

“My great grandfather had fourteen children and the one before was sixteen and then thirteen so when you talk about Irish cousins it’s not very hard to find one.”

So while our celebrations may not be exactly what the day is supposed to be about, it is a festive weekend clergy and politicians from Ireland where here watching with keen interest.

They come here to see how we’re doing it because they see some of what we’re doing an opportunity in Ireland because Ireland has worked very hard on tourism.

“We’re going to shop down Michigan Avenue then do a shot, then shop and do a shot.  Shopping and shotting.”

Because a little extra cash in Ireland tourism coffers, likely won’t happen with just luck.

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