While you may or may not want to be “wearing of the green” on St. Patrick’s Day, you may still bring the best of luck to you and yours with any type of celebration to welcome and open the door to Spring, which is part of the St. Pat’s Day festivities. It is just so enjoyable to go from the lackluster bland colors of Winter to the vibrant and enticing shades of green and Spring.
One of the staples of a St. Patrick’s Day dinner is Irish Soda Bread. There are so many different recipes available on the ‘net that you can pick and choose to your heart’s delight. This bread is so named because “baking soda” is the leavening agent and the “X” cut into the top of the loaf is a sure fire way to ward off any evil spirits that may be lurking around. Watching the St. Patrick’s Day parade from New York City is a relaxing way for family and friends to get into the “green” mode. Sipping cool and refreshing coolers or ice cream treats, or if you prefer a hot beverage, such as green tea with mint, Irish coffee for the adults, or even minty hot chocolate with whipped cream that has some “green mint” candies crushed into it just adds to the day. The “cockles of your heart” will be warmed and ready to have thoughts of corned beef and cabbage, and all the trimmings.
The first St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated in 1737. If you are into authenticity, then going to “Dublin” is easier than you think. You don’t have to cross an ocean, just go cross country. There is Dublin, CA., Dublin, OH., Dublin, N.H., Dublin, GA., and even Dublin, VA.
Hallmark proclaims that it sells over 12 million St. Patrick’s Day cards and greetings that are sent each year. Opening up an envelope with a wish, such as “May your neighbors respect you, troubles neglect you, angels protect you, and heaven accept you” makes for a great day indeed.
I grew up watching the Chicago river turn green each St. Patrick’s Day; okay, a nicer shade of green then the norm for that river. Using tons of vegetable dye, the ‘ol Chicago River becomes a “green” flowing river for a few days, which is a truly beautiful sight from the windows of some of the tall Chicago Loop buildings. It makes you want to turn to the person standing next to you and offering, “May the best day of your past, be the worse day of your future.” Kind of nice!!!
Kissing the Blarney Stone is a legend in Cork, Ireland. A good way to re-enact this tradition is to kiss the cook that makes home-made blarney stones for dessert. Using your favorite cupcake recipe, just follow the directions and bake. Cool the cupcakes and then frost with any snowy white frosting and cover the entire top with green tinted coconut. Just add 1 tbs. water to green food coloring till the green is the shade that suits you. Put the coconut in a jar, add the colored water, place a tight-fitting lid on top and start to shake that jar to some really hot Irish jigs. When the coconut is tinted evenly, dry on paper towels and then add to the top of your very own Blarney Stones.
Shamrocks and gold coins cut from shiny colored paper is a great decorating tip for tabletops. You can even place initials of your guests on the underside of the coins, and before setting the table with goodies, give everyone one minute to try and pick up as many of the coins with their initials on it. Then they can buy dessert items that they choose, that are just sitting on a side table waiting to be snatched up for the right price.
Corned beef and cabbage is a mainstay but with a bit of “green” imagination, any side dishes can be made that carry out the theme of the day. At the end of any meal, pass around a green bowler hat that you can make from construction paper and fill it with well wishes and blessings that are sure to please. Your family and friends will enjoy opening up their special notes with sayings such as, “May God bring good health to your enemies’ enemies” or “May you live to be a hundred years with one extra year to repent.” So toast St. Patrick’s Day and Slainte’ to you (pronounced Slan-cha and means “Health”).
Wishing everyone the opportunity to celebrate St. Pat’s Day inexpensively and in fun ways. Remember – If you ever wonder what God thinks of money, just look at who he gives it to.”
Arleen Kaptur has written extensively for newspapers and periodicals.
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