I love the energy and excitement of crowds and the camaraderie that we experience when America shares a celebration. Being an Italian American, I never thought it was weird when my mom made corned beef and cabbage every March 17th or thought I didn’t belong when a group of my friends skipped school on St. Patrick’s Day when we were in high school. We walked across the George Washington Bridge senior year and hopped on the downtown subway to watch the famous New York City parade make its way down 5th Avenue. I marveled at the pageantry and the bagpipers. I completely subscribe to the saying, that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.
When March approaches, I start to get excited about the prospect of spring but also about St. Patrick’s Day events. Thanks to several friends of Irish heritage, I fell in love with the traditions. I enjoy the music and the rhythm of step dancing. I adore a meal of corned beef, potatoes, and cabbage, and I cherish raising glasses of cheer with my friends, clinking glasses and saying, Slainte!
On March 17th, I always wear a traditional Aran Island knit sweater that a friend gave me years ago from her vacation in Ireland. My husband and I plan a trip there this August to experience the kind people and the beauty of the Emerald Isle. And, to fulfill our bucket list items of hitting the links and seeing the Cliffs of Moher.
Unfortunately, this year, a virus took the world by storm. We were asked to observe social distancing. Parades around the United States were canceled, and Americans were asked to gather in groups of no more than ten. Bars and restaurants closed for the time being while we all try to stop the spread of the insidious Corona Virus plaguing the world. Travel to and from the United States has halted and advisories went out to have at least two-weeks of provisions at home.
My friend Mela and I were commiserating on the phone about the state of things when she shared with me that her family of six would all be under the same roof on March 18th. She would make sure that “Lucky” would arrive a day late. You see, “Lucky” appears magically on the morning of St. Patrick’s Day to turn everything in her home green. For breakfast, the milk and OJ are green, and most of the food items are green. Of course, they serve green Lucky Charms too. “Lucky” turns the water in the toilet bowls green and hides a pot of gold somewhere in the house filled with chocolate coins and occasionally gold dollars. Sometimes he leaves trinkets too, like a shamrock charm for a bracelet or shamrock socks. It all depends on what he can bring each year.
Of all the St. Patrick’s Day traditions, I love this one most of all. Mela goes all out, and her girls (the youngest a junior in high school) have grown up with “Lucky” their whole lives. “Lucky” is akin to Santa, as everyone believes he is real (wink wink), but if you don’t believe, you don’t receive. As a family of six, Mela waited until they were all under one roof, and then he magically appeared to spread joy for St. Patrick’s Day, one day late.
In this tense time, while people are scared and life as we know it grinds to a halt, I am thrilled that “Lucky” visited the Montgomery family to bring on the green this year. Two daughters saw their semesters and their sports seasons cut short, another, a freshman, had just joined a sorority, was making friends, and had to leave her new school abruptly. The youngest, a junior in high school, had her prom, and her SAT canceled.
You don’t have to travel anywhere to experience culture. You can enjoy it at home with the people you love and the traditions you hold dear. Who knows, maybe “Lucky” will grant me a wish to see my country heal from this scourge and open up world – travel soon so we can see his beautiful land in person.