Tribune: Reflections on St. Patrick’s Day

Growing up in the Chicago area, I’ve always had fond memories of St. Patrick’s Day … and not all of them relate to the thousands of Irish bars that can be found in the Chicago area.

I remember working in an office that was located on the Chicago River and watching as the city “dyed” the river green for the day. However, to be honest, some years it was hard to tell the pre- and post-dye river apart. 

I also recall watching Jane Byrne, the city’s first female mayor, wearing a long green fur coat for the St. Patrick’s Day parade. Although I must confess when I did a Google search to try to find a picture of the coat, all that came up were stories about how she moved into Cabrini Green (one of Chicago’s infamous housing projects) as a way to improve public safety and investment in the area. The woman had chutzpah … but I digress.

But enough about my memories.  Here are some fun facts about St. Patrick’s Day:1

  • St. Patrick wasn’t Irish (it is said he hailed from Wales or Scotland), although that doesn’t stop Ireland from declaring it a national holiday. Nor was St. Patrick’s name Patrick (he was born Maewyn Succat) and despite the stories, he didn’t banish snakes from Ireland as Ireland didn’t have snakes;
  • 13 million pints of Guiness are consumed on March 17 across the world; and
  • Two million people attend New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.

And what’s St. Patrick’s Day without a few Irish jokes (the clean ones)?2

  • How come you can never borrow a few quid from a leprechaun? Because they’re always a little short!
  • What does an Irishman get after eating a load of Italian food? Gaelic breath.
  • How come Irish golfers can’t finish their game on St. Patrick’s Day? Because they refuse to leave the green!

And lastly, one of my favorite Irish sayings:

“May your day be touched by a bit of Irish luck, brightened by a song in your heart and warmed by the smile of the people you love.”