USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘st. patrick’s day’
Foodways
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Rituals, festivals, holidays

Saint Patrick’s Day Food

Context & Analysis

My roommate (the subject) and I were sitting in our dorm room talking about how our families celebrated different holidays. The subject’s family is relatively large and extremely tight-knit, as reflected in the subjects emphasis on “we always always do [it]”. Most of her extended family live within an hour radius, and they value family gatherings. Though this is the case, the subject only celebrates St. Patrick’s day with her immediate family members. I thought it was interesting that the subject’s family celebrates St. Patrick’s Day, considering no one in their family is of Irish descent. Additionally, I thought it was interesting how the family doesn’t celebrate St. Patrick’s day in a traditional sense (i.e. celebrating by drinking or gathering with extended family); instead, I believe the incorporation of images from the Dr. Seuss story, “Green Eggs and Ham”, reflects the nurturing and supportive environment of the family and the encouragement of uniqueness.

 

Main Piece

“On Saint Patrick’s Day—my family and I—we always make green eggs and ham, um, it’s not really specific to St. Patrick’s day, it’s a Dr. Seuss book, but, um, we have everything green for that breakfast. This year my dad even made the butter green so the bagels look really wonky [laughs], that was a little gross, but, um, we always always always do that, and if it’s not breakfast or we can’t be together for breakfast we’re together for, um, dinner or something, and we’ll like dye our Indian food green [laughs].”


 

Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Erin Express

“How appropriate do I have to be?” was the first thing Lila asked me about describing this tradition.

Background: Lila attends Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA. When she arrived at school she called my friends to ask us if we had ever heard of Erin Express. When we all assured her that we had never heard of that she began to describe this Philly-wide tradition called Erin Express that related to St. Patrick’s Day.

Context: I had this conversation with Lila over the phone. I recorded our conversation and transcribed it below.

“I go to Drexel University in Philadelphia. When I first got here I started hearing about this event. Actually I don’t even want to call it an event, it’s not an event. Its something the city… it’s like the 3 weekends leading up to Saint Patrick’s day, a bunch of bars and clubs in the area will have a kind of bar crawl? If you go to college in Philadelphia you will have pregames* starting in the morning and then go to those bar crawls. So basically the three weekends leading up to St. Patrick’s day and then on St. Patrick’s day you will get dressed up, you’ll wake up early, wear all St. Patrick’s day apparel and basically day drink the whole day and go to different bars. And it’s not just something college kids do, it’s something that older people do too. It’s not a college thing, I guess if you’re in college you’ll start at frats but end up at bars. It was something interesting about the culture here that I had never heard and something cool that Philly does. Yeah.”

When I asked her to elaborate on what people typically wear, this is what she said;

“You dress up like it’s St. Patrick’s Day, even if it is multiple weeks before. The whole theme of it is Irish? A lot of time friend groups or sororities will make a t-shirt for it that people will buy that have puns about Erin Express since that’s the name of it or puns about St. Patrick’s Day or different cute designs. It’s almost like tailgate t-shirt culture** but in a different kind of setting.”

*Pregame- a pre-party where people get together to drink alcohol before going out to a bar, typically as a way to save money on drinks once you’re at the bar. It is also a way to meet up with your friends to “get the party started”.

** Many sororities and fraternities at various schools will make t-shirts that have jokes on them about the school that they are playing often in football that people will wear to tailgates. Some examples for USC would be t-shirts that say “Tri Delta Tailgates” or “FUCLA” (as a way of insulting a rival).

Holidays

St. Patrick’s Day

Informant: My family is super Irish. Yeah, very, very Irish. They always say that St. Patrick’s Day should be celebrated by always having a Guinness and Irish stew. To, you know, fully appreciate the holiday.

The informant is a student at the University of Southern California. She is originally from Indiana, where she and her “very Irish” family live, and told me about her family’s St. Patrick’s Day traditions while we were discussing the upcoming Spring Break.

What I found most interesting about this particular piece of folk tradition is the idea that there is a “correct” way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

general
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Dyeing the Chicago River Green

My informant grew up in Chicago, IL and he says that every year on St. Patrick’s Day, they dye the Chicago River green. He explained that every year, he would be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with his family and “one second it’s blue, or grey…it’s nasty, and then 30 minutes later, it’s green.”

For 43 years now, a private company has been “dyeing” the Chicago river green. Supposedly, the tradition got started in 1961 when Stephen Bailey saw a plumber with a splendid emerald green color all over his white coveralls. Bailey asked the plumber how his coveralls got that color and he explained that the dye they used to detect leaks turned the water green. So, Bailey saw this as a start of a tradition and from then on without fail they turn the Chicago river an bright emerald green on St. Patrick’s Day.

St. Patrick’s Day has always been an interesting holiday to me. It falls right around my birthday and I never liked getting pinched when elementary school boys were not able to tell the difference between blue and green.  The holiday derived in Ireland as commemoration of Saint Ireland who was associated with the start of Christianity in Ireland. Supposedly, Saint Patrick was originally associated with the color blue, but then later was set to green. There we have the addition of leprechauns, shamrocks and pots o’ gold. The holiday in Ireland set a day for church services, parades, and lifted the “Lenten restrictions” on eating and drinking alcohol. Holidays now have become less focused on its origins and more on the feasting and jovial activities.

Here is a video link: Dyeing the Chicago River

Source URLs: http://greenchicagoriver.com/story.html, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patrick’s_Day

Customs
Foodways
general
Holidays

Family Tradition

“Every St. Patrick’s Day, we have corned beef and cabbage. It’s been a tradition in my family for years, and I plan carrying that tradition on into the future.  We roast the meat with potatoes and carrots and then add the cabbage. It’s also served with mustard.  You begin roasting the meat in the morning, and it’s usually done in the afternoon when our entire family gathers to eat it. Additionally, the “leprechauns” come during the day sometime to mess up a room in the house.  As a kid, my parents and aunts and uncles used to do it for all of us children, but now that I’m older, we do it for the kids.  It basically represents the leprechauns trying to find a pot of gold amongst our stuff, and after they “find” it, they leave a trail of money or gold coins as they escape. Once it’s all done, the kids of course have to clean up the mess, but get to keep their ‘gold.’”

Summer told me that she doesn’t know exactly how the tradition started, since her family is Swedish, not Irish. I think it probably just started as a tradition for the kids, which Summer said. It was supposed to be a fun event for the kids, so that they could go on a hunt to find gold coins or whatever treasure that is left for them. The tradition is probably also a way for their family to get together and enjoy each other’s company. The tradition of corned beef and cabbage was probably included because it is the traditional meal that many people prepare for St. Patrick’s Day, because it might have just been a more “authentic” meal to mark the occasion.

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