Happy St. Patrick’s Day! This is one of my favourite holidays of the year and I am always excited to celebrate it. Not because of green beer (yuck!) or chocolate gold coins (as delicious as they are) or an excuse to get together at an Irish pub (because who really needs one?), but because I quite literally should have been born Irish. Sounds very strange coming from a Canadian lady with Indian roots, I know. But let me explain.
First of all, I have an Irish first name: Maureen. I’ve heard various stories from my mom about why she chose this name for me, but mostly I think she thought the name was pretty and thus I became Maureen. Coincidence that I have an Irish name and I love all things Irish now? I don’t think so…
Second, I had a string of very lucky St. Patrick’s Days in a row a few years back that made me think something about this holiday had to be magical. Like being gifted tickets to a hockey game that night from random strangers that ended up being the tickets that my friend’s uncle had originally promised us. Spending an epic day and night in New York City watching the biggest St. Patty’s Day parade in the world and meeting a bunch of real Irish people at a bar. Something fun and/or special always seems to happen to me on this day.
Last, I went on an AMAZING exchange to Ireland and Northern Ireland that for many reasons I was never supposed to go on. I found out about the exchange randomly and on the encouragement of an acquaintance literally faxed in my application at 5:59 pm when the deadline was 6pm. I became inexplicably ill for months during the selection process but somehow managed to show up to all 3 interviews and beat out 20 plus people for a spot on the exchange. Sadly, I was picked as an “alternate” to go on the trip and only guaranteed a spot to go to Korea on the next exchange instead. When that decision was made, I seriously considered quitting the process all together but something in me said to put aside my pride and hope that some twist of fate would allow me to go on the trip to Ireland and Northern Ireland. Well, fate (or was it the luck of the Irish?) intervened a few weeks later. I was given a spot on the team and spent 30 days exploring some of the most magical places I have ever been.
So now that you are convinced that I should have been born Irish, why should you care about St. Patrick’s Day? Well, because it is a chance to celebrate bit of magic during an otherwise boring time of year. Spring isn’t fully here yet, Christmas and New Year’s days are in distant memory – so why not toast to the Irish? Though St. Patrick’s Day has its root in religion, modern-day celebrations are about appreciating a beautiful country with wonderful people.
The Irish are some of the warmest and welcoming people I have met, but they are more than just their reputation for being friendly. Whether from Ireland or Northern Ireland, the Irish enjoy what they have and don’t fuss about small things like being 5 minutes late because they know there are much more important things in life. Compared to the breakneck speed at which most North Americans go about life, it was refreshing to experience a culture that values family and friends more than having the best/being the best/doing the best all the freaking time. I came back from the trip looking at life with new, green-coloured glasses. What I perceived to be important (getting ahead in my career, collecting material possessions, etc) was actually of little value to me in the long run. Family, friends and knowing that life is what you make of it – this is what I focus on now.
So, whether your choice of drink today is Guinness or Jameson (or both!), I hope you raise a glass to celebrate the beauty of all things Irish, most importantly the Irish spirit.