Irish holiday is full of fun

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 16, 2006

Today, we are only one day away from one of the most entertaining holidays of the year. Just in case you live in a cave, I am talking about St. Patrick’s Day.

Every year on March 17 some of the most interesting traditions surrounding any holiday are acted out.

The traditions of Easter, Christmas and Thanksgiving have deep meaning, but most of the traditions surrounding St. Patrick’s Day are geared around fun.

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Come Friday, many people will be eating Irish food such as Irish Stew and Corned Beef and cabbage. This is odd because Corned Beef is not an Irish dish. Several other traditions have risen through the years that were not originally a part of this great holiday. One of these is heading to the local pub in your favorite green shirt. Years ago in Ireland when St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated pubs were normally closed because this was considered a religious holiday. People also didn’t wear green because it was considered an unlucky color.

Good luck not wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day now. Because of another tradition, if you decide to wear blue, red or yellow on St. Patrick’s Day you are probably in for a pinch.

No one is really sure where this tradition came from or its details, except that it is strictly an American tradition. The odds are, if you went to an authentic St. Patrick’s Day celebration you would not see a lot of green because the color green is associated with the old green flag from a time when Ireland was not free. Though it would be tempting, I would not recommend pinching any of these people for not carrying out this American tradition.

There is another Irish tradition that has become associated with St. Patrick’s Day that is far stranger than anything Americans were able to add to the holiday. This is the tradition of kissing the Blarney Stone. The stone is set in the wall of the Blarney Castle tower in the Irish village of Blarney. Kissing the stone is supposed to bring the kisser the gift of persuasive eloquence.

The story behind the stone says that an old woman cast a spell on the stone to reward a king who had saved her from drowning. Kissing the stone while under the spell gave the king the ability to speak sweetly and convincingly. It’s difficult reach the stone. Kissers have to lie on their back and bend backward or downward, holding iron bars for support. Imagine going through all that trouble just to kiss a rock!

As you ponder these traditions, their meanings and histories this St. Patrick’s Day, don’t forget the best Irish tradition of all…the toast. If you don’t know one, here is one of my favorites:

Here’s to absent friends and here’s twice to absent enemies.

Here’s to the light heart and the heavy hand.

Thirst is a shameless disease so here’s to a shameful cure.

Here’s to a wet night and a dry morning.

May we always have a clean shirt, a clean conscience, and a bob in the pocket.

May you be across Heaven’s threshold before the old boy knows you’re dead.