One reason everyone becomes an honorary Irish citizen on St. Patrick’s Day is that, along with the Robins and the Red Winged Blackbirds, it is among the first heralds of spring. You remember spring, right? That promise when the world around us begins to turn all manner of impish elven green. These past few weeks Old Man Winter has been up to his old tricks with one Nor’easter after another. Some of us had been foolish enough to hope that winter had worn itself out when the rains cleared even the plow piles of snow from sun-deprived corners. Seems he’s got a region wide vindictive streak. Fortunately, we know from experience, that Mother Nature eventually wins. Perhaps with a bit of leprechaun luck.
There are many stories of Ireland’s patron saint, one being that he was of Romano-British aristocracy, the son of a Roman decurion and Catholic deacon and the grandson of a Catholic priest. As a teenager, he is reported to have been kidnapped by pirates and enslaved in Ireland for six years. He escaped back to Britain where he became a priest himself and returned to Ireland in service to his church.
Greenland got its name in from a Viking trick to entice pioneers to that island so they could keep the more desirable Iceland to themselves. While England is renowned as “A green and pleasant land”, Ireland holds the title as the greenest land. There may be a few Japanese moss gardeners that hold other opinions. Chicago has uniquely honored their substantial Irish-American population by their annual ritual of dying the St. Charles River green for St. Patrick’s Day. Presumably, St. Charles is not green with envy.
One might justly ask how envy and jealously got into the crowd of positive, affirming symbols designated by green. It is the color most commonly associated with nature, life, health, youth, spring, hope, tranquility, fertility and happiness. In post classical-early modern Europe, green was the color of wealth, bankers, and the gentry, while the angry red was reserved for the nobility. Going Green means to be environmentally sound and supportive. Getting a green light means to move forward. Green eyes, however, are the second rarest eye color in the world, the first being pink.
Okay, spring is coming, despite our still operating snowplows. Celebrations are in order. St. Patrick’s Day is a joyously green festivity. In its honor, we’re offering a toothsome, verdant recipe this week: Chocolate Chip Mint Cupcakes. Top of the party to you!