On March 17, Irish people living throughout the world celebrate Saint Patrick's Day. They do not plan to grab a special day of the year for themselves and certainly they do not wish to arouse jealousy in other minorities. All are welcome to a full share in the Great Day for the Irish and sensible people always accept the offer. Naturally, as usual, there are a few soreheads. But they do not have to join the parade or enjoy any of the merry goings on.
Many facts about the life of Saint Patrick are clouded in legend but a few things we know for certain. In the early 400s he went to Ireland as a Christian missionary ¬and perhaps no missionary in history was ever more welcomed. He died on March 17, 461, and the grateful Irish made him their patron saint. Wherever they live, all over the world, they still commemorate March 17, in his honor. Irish people arrived in their U.S. with the earliest settlers and the celebration of Saint Patrick's Day began way back in Colonial days. It was first organized by the Friends of Saint Patrick in Philadelpaia and you can bet your four leafed clover that anybody and everybody who wanted to be a friend of Saint Patrick was welcome to participate in the festivities.
Oh, no, the Irish people were not trying to grab a special day of the year for themselves. And certainly such a notion is distasteful to our modern Irish American:.. So let's put such ideas out of our heads because they are both untrue and unfair. Maybe other minorities would like to have such a great day for themselves and this may make them feel envious. This of course is quite childish because they could have all that fun if they really went about it the right way.
True, this may not be the best time to organize a Great Day for each minority. In the earlier days of our history, Americans were more likely to respect and even cherish each other's differences than they are today. Perhaps that sort of cultural climate was necessary to get a Saint Patrick's Day started. Certainly the Irish who started the Great Day took that sort of cultural courtesy for granted.
Some people claim that this is an era of minority awareness and, goodness knows, so it is. However, when you admit this much you are admitting that each minority group has it special differences. Hence there ,must be something special about the Irish something so special that most of us want to feel a bit Irish on March 17. Could it be because the people running the show are warm hearted and deeply courteous? Could it be because we know in our hearts that we are invited and most welcome to participate? Or could it be just because we like the excitement and everybody loves a parade? When we figure out these answers, each and every minority will be able to have a Great Day for themselves. However, it cannot happen unless everybody else is invited.
Some people think that Saint Patrick's Day is just for the Irish Catholics. It is true that the majority of our Irish minority are Catholic and naturally the celebration of their patron saint is associated with their church. But soon after the Friends of Saint Patrick was organized in Philadelphia, a second chapter was organized in New York. And this group included both Catholic and Protestant Irish.