Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Get Your Green On

Magnet # 194:  An Irish Dolmen

Material:  Resin

Purchased By:  Me

It's St. Patrick's Day all around the world, but there are few places where it has more significance than here in Savannah, Georgia. The area has a large amount of Irish immigrants and the second largest parade in the country is held here each year, with around 400,000 people attending.  Considering our population is usually around 132,000, that's a pretty big celebration.  We throw a parade in the morning that travels all through historic Savannah and its famous squares.  It's a family event and generations of locals participate.  They also dye fountains downtown green.  Later, the party shifts to River Street, a historic locale along the Savannah River with plenty of taverns and bars.  And, yes, there is quite a bit of drinking and revelries that are for adults only.  It used to be more like the raunchiness they have in New Orleans, but city leaders have tried to clean it up over the past few years.  I have to confess, in all my years here in Savannah, I have never attended this event.  As I've mentioned on here before, I really don't like big crowds.  I would like to go, but I just don't want to be out with the masses, and from what I've heard, questionable portable toilets are pretty much the only option unless you have a relationship with a downtown resident or merchant, which I don't.  Years ago, when my friend Catherine was here, we planned to camp out at her apartment, located on the third story of an apartment that overlooked one of the squares, and sit out on the balcony, overlooking the event.  I really would have enjoyed that, and it was even on a Saturday, so I would not have had to take off from work.  But she got terribly ill before the day of the parade, so much so that she had to move home.  I really miss her and I wish we could have gotten together to watch the parade that day. Perhaps someday, I'll brave the crowd and travel down to see the celebration in person, but today is definitely not that day.

It's a little funny, but St. Patrick's Day parades didn't begin in Ireland - they started in Boston back in 1737.  It wouldn't be until 1931 that the first parade was held in Ireland.  Even so, St. Patrick's Day is a quintessential Irish event. It centers around Saint Patrick, who was born in 387 A.D. to a wealthy and devout Romano-British family.  When he was a teenager, his life took a turn for the worse when he was kidnapped and taken to be a save in Ireland.  However, he was able to escape and return home, where he began to study to be a priest.  Later, he had a vision that prompted him to return to Ireland.  There, as a bishop, he spent the rest of his life, around 30 years, converting both the rich and poor of the land, becoming one of its most beloved religious figures.  Around the 1600s, the Irish turned his day into one of feasting and celebrating.  Initially, blue was the color tied to the holiday, but green soon overtook it.  Perhaps this happened because of the green shamrock, which St. Patrick was said to have used to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity to his followers.  Because this celebration occurred during Lent and gave its followers a day of break during their fasting, it became very popular.  By 1903, it had become a national Irish celebration and spread all over the world.  Nowadays, it's become a way to celebrate Irish culture and heritage and is popular with millions of revelers.

I have been to Ireland once, although I didn't buy this magnet then.  I stumbled upon it in a Gatlinburg magnet store and happily grabbed it up.  I was around 10 years old at the time of our visit to the Emerald Isle.  It was a beautiful country and we had a really good time.  The food was a little tough to get used to, though.  One day, the bed and breakfast we were staying at served my Dad black blood pudding and none of use were able to eat it.  And I kept trying to find ketchup that wasn't sweet to go with my fries.  I finally came upon a bottle of Heinz, but that was sweet, too.  So if you want to celebrate St. Patrick's Day with some authentic food, I recommend something less adventurous like corn beef and cabbage or green beer.  Even if you can't make it to a parade (or don't want to) you can still have some fun the Irish way.  Just don't forget to wear you green and don't get pinched!

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