We all remember the days of making cards, badges and decorations in Primary School for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Áine O’Donnell tells her version of this memory…
Back in primary school, the national holiday for our patron saint was the highlight of our Easter. We got to spend all week in school working on art projects for the big day, we knew we could break lent and we got to go to the big parade in town. Now in more cynical times of our adulthood, we only see St. Patricks Day as an extra day off college and an excuse to “celebrate” all day in the streets.
The preparations for St. Patricks Day began the week before in school. The teacher would sit us down to hear about the story of St. Patrick, the man who brought Christianity to Ireland. Or as we knew him, St. Patrick, man who got rid of the snakes. We would make cards for our parents wishing them a “Happy St. Patrick’s Day” and we would use every last drop of green paint left in Ireland to make ourselves hats or badges to wear to the parade, adorned with shamrocks.
The big day would arrive; we would wear all our green clothes no matter how unsuitable or unfashionable they were. We would be dragged to mass by our parents to endure an hour of praying for our patron saint. After mass, we would take a trip to the shop and purchase our first packet of sweets of lent (as far as Mammy knew). Then we would watch the Dublin parade on the TV, amazed at the huge crowds and massive floats.
The highlight of the day was heading into town to see the town parade. We joined the huge congregation of townspeople waiting to see the marching bands, shoddily made floats, town dancers and most importantly, the fleet of tractors which was a staple in every parade. We waited eagerly for the floats that would throw out sweets – the only ones that mattered. We would recognise kids from our class who had somehow manage to get to be in the parade and had their five minutes of fame. We reluctantly went home with Mummy and Daddy. The day ended with the anticipation of seeing whether our parade made it onto the evening news on RTÉ.
In those simpler days, we knew what St. Patrick’s Day was about: eating sweets and waving your Ireland flag as hard as you could to thank St. Paddy for telling those snakes where to go.
What are your plans this St. Patrick’s Day?