It’s a Miracle We Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day
The St. Patrick’s Day we all know and love, once looked nothing like what we experience today. Hundreds of years ago it was only a humble celebration to commemorate the life and service of St. Patrick, a man who brought Christianity to Ireland. A special feast took place to remember his service to Ireland that eventually transformed into parties and the adoption of the color green and anything else that reflected the lush land of luck.
This special day may never have made it beyond the borders of Ireland if not for the potato famine of 1845. Citizens of Ireland spilled through the borders of America in search of food and work. As with so many other groups of individuals who were not part of the majority group, the newcomers experienced prejudice and resistance from Americans.
The cool part is how the Irish stuck together and kept their traditions alive by filling the streets with celebrations. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade happened on American soil and spread like parties and parades tend to do. Turning rivers green, drinks green, and of course wearing green is a must if you want to celebrate in style.
Unfortunately, humans have a habit of turning away from newcomers. Once we establish social connections and group membership, we tend to look at those we don’t know as a threat to our predictable life or a sign of unrequested change. The more different we believe the “outsiders” are, the more at arm’s length we keep them.
Examples from our lives include entering a new school or becoming a freshman in high school or college. Initiations are part of the punishment students have had to endure to break into the already formed crowd. Starting a new job when everyone else is functioning like a well-oiled machine can be just as unnerving.
Our melting pot strategy as a nation is transitioning to a celebration of diversity. Recognition of our heritage, customs, and traditions is now understood to be a healthy practice for all people. Although we will likely continue our hesitancy toward the newcomers at work or in our country simply because it’s in our nature to scope out a possible threat, we should be better at hosting and welcoming the new, different, and special among us.
Otherwise, look at all the celebrations of unique culture we would miss out on.
While wearing your green this St. Patrick’s Day, thank the early immigrants who persevered through the tough times for sharing their luck with us.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!