St. Patrick’s Day Symbols & Traditions

kiss-me-irishAt this point of the year we certainly all claim to be a little Irish, don’t we? I know any excuse to make my outfit for the day have a specific theme is a holiday I cherish. I also know that although most of us are a combination of many heritages it certainly feels great to have pride for one over the other at certain times. Yes, today I am Irish, but come Friday night I will also claim to be partially Italian in me when I’m making my own pasta recipe. It just seems more genuine that way, but nonetheless it certainly feels great no matter what your background to find a reason to celebrate! To celebrate properly one must dress and act the part and certainly indulge in all of our favorite cultural traditions. Now, in all seriousness, I do have quite a bit of Irish in me which can be stereotypically noted in my naturally curly auburn hair, my skin’s ability to repel the sun and that I was proudly named Erin after the motherland, Ireland, but being that my family fully embraced the All-American ways when they came here in the 1960s, I find that I don’t recall as much of our ethnic traditions as I’m sure my parents and grandparents. That’s why I find great joy in digging into some of the Irish traditions we find in America to this day! This includes everything from foods, slang words and even our marriage ceremonies. Don’t believe me, well I hope you’re holding on to your Green, White & Orange stripped socks because they may just get knocked off. 🙂

“Tying The Knot”wedding

Sure, many of us have heard this and many have done it, but do you know where this term comes from? It is an old Irish tradition that symbolizes the bond of marriage. This was before exchanging rings became popular. At that point in the ceremony the couple would clasp their hands together, and a ribbon, cord or rope, often brightly colored, is wound around their joined hands to symbolize their agreement to live their lives together. This is a Celtic tradition (although the Scottish claim this as well), but is widely spread amongst Europe and has found its way into our American ceremonies and slang!

Shepherd’s PieIMG_3038

I’m sure many of us have had the delicious Shepherd’s Pie before, but do you know the history of where it came from and it’s importance? This favorite marks the introduction of Potatoes to England. This was considered a new world food and really showcased the most popular crop for Ireland and Scotland. You can imagine  shepherds’ involvement in all of this. Being so high in nutrients and able to keep grown men full while herding the livestock, this recipe of meat, potatoes, veggies and spices has lived on for centuries, being mentioned in literature as early as 1791! This was an affordable meal and continues to be a dietary staple today!

The Gift of Gab800px-The_Blarney_Stone

I know I have heard this said about me maybe once or twice … mostly when I was a child and probably because  my attention span was derailing the second grade classroom, but I always wondered what the gift of gab really was or how I was bestowed such a gift?! Ha! Well, this definitely comes from our Irish ancestors! The Blarney Stone (some of you may have heard of this) is where this saying originated . The word “blarney” means clever, flattering or coaxing talk. The ritual kissing of the Blarney Stone is to give one’s self the gift of gab and empower those with whit and charm. Now, many of us are born with this lucky trait, but for those of you looking to gain a voice, I’d recommend considering a trip to Ireland to pucker up.

Now, these are just a few of many, many traditions, foods and slang we carry with us daily in America. We take pride in being Americans and our traditions, but it’s fun to know that we’re still honoring our ancestors daily in ways we didn’t even know. Curious about your heritage or Irish decent? There’s no better time than the present to wear a little green, search for a four leaf clover and maybe just have an excuse to steal a kiss from your favorite lad or lass today.

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