Happy St. Patrick’s Day! You may not be aware of it, but today is one of those holidays we’ve been celebrating for 250 years now; whether you’re Irish, a fan of the Irish, or perhaps just one of those people who likes an occasion to enjoy merriment (and debauchery) midweek, it’s here.
Having spent most of my formative years in New York City, and having lived always in midtown surrounded by Irish pubs, I can tell you that it’s pretty fun being in Manhattan on St. Paddy’s Day. The whole area seems to empty out onto the streets and everyone moves gently if clumsily towards nothing in particular – so it all feels super-slo-mo and suddenly you realize there’s beer all over your shoes. But it’s always been very good-natured and benign. Unless of course you actually have to be somewhere, in which case you may have to pry all manner of normally-low-key stockbrokers and lawyers masquerading as leprechauns and court jesters off of you. Nor does anyone seem to care too much about going to work, either. When I relocated to LA a few years ago, I was certain that things like St. Patrick’s Day happened only in places like New York City, and maybe Boston. I got a job in radio and the next thing you know we’d planned a St. Paddy’s Day broadcast for everyone at a bar in the middle of Los Angeles. I remember thinking, wow, they’ll probably manage to get a few people out to the event, but it won’t be anything like it is on the East Coast. Now, because my radio job was on a morning show I arrived at the specified bar for our St. Patrick’s Day Celebration at 5 a.m., where I immediately encountered about six hundred fans. Wow, I thought, they sure are devoted to our morning radio program. Which is when I naively discovered that yes, while there were certainly fans, these people would be here anyway – in Los Angeles, California – at 5 a.m. because they LOVED to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day. At that point it dawned on me that maybe it wasn’t just a NYC phenomenon. That was St. Patrick’s Day Lesson # 1. The following year, and for several years thereafter, I was lucky enough to find myself – courtesy of that radio job and Jameson’s Irish Whiskey – in Dublin, Ireland. Where I was sure that these people – living as they did at the center of all things St. Patrick’s – would enjoy something uniquely Irish. It would be cool, and I would feel silly and awkwardly American. The whole city is pretty mystical anyway (not to mention utterly spectacular to see) so I was prepared to be stunned by people paying quiet tribute to a very famous saint in a solemn, and maybe even reverential way. I thought , no way will they go in for all that crazy unruly behavior that we Americans display so cheerily – no, no. They’ll sing in their own quiet way and we’ll see flags and serious national ceremonies. (It’s a national holiday there.) Once again, I was dead wrong. I’d not gone fifty feet from my hotel before being accosted by easily a hundred people in facepaint shrieking in those those green and orange Dr. Seuss hats; I could barely get to where the “parade” was happening because the streets were so overwhelmed with drunken revelers, scary harlequins, and dancing children. Plus, the whole thing seemed to go on for about 48 hours. It was a tremendous spectacle, made more stunning to me by the fact that it was absolutely no different from what happens in New York City. Still, being in Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day is one of the great treats you can experience, and I’d recommend a visit to the Emerald Isle once in anyone’s lifetime. It’s truly magical – even if the actual components of their celebration are nearly identical to what I’d seen stateside. So that’s when I learned that St. Patrick’s Day is truly a celebration wherever you go, and it’s also when I realized that even though people like me think places like New York City are the center of the universe, the rest of the world’s definitely got some good ideas on how to enjoy today’s festivities too (this was St. Paddy’s Day Lesson #2). Wherever you are, here’s hoping you have a safe, fun (and footloose) St. Patrick’s Day.
2) The Cranberries
3) Van Morrison