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Celebrating the man behind the shamrock

Kristen's Comment

It’s March and that can only mean one thing.

Other than the arrival of spring, of course. Although it will be nice to see the change of the seasons, I’m talking about St. Patrick’s Day. It’s still over a week away, but I’m already getting excited.

Those who know me well find this amusing because I’m not a big drinker and let’s be honest, that’s what St. Patrick’s Day is for most people – a chance to drink beer, hit up the pub with friends, and drink more beer.

I think it must be the Irish blood that courses through my veins courtesy of my mom’s side of the family.

They were always big observers of the Irish holiday and some of their traditions were passed down by my mom to our family.

I think I have her to thank for my love of the Irish. Every March 17 she would make us green mashed potatoes with our dinner and green Kool-Aid or limeade to drink.

We had an Irish Rovers record with The Unicorn on the A side and Black Velvet Band on the B side that we played on repeat.

But the best part of all was later that night when the family would sit down to watch what became a classic in our household – Hoss and the Leprechauns. Any Bonanza fans out there will instantly know the episode I’m talking about.

As a kid it was one of the funniest things I had ever seen, all of those “little green men” running around on Ponderosa Land trying to claim their gold and escape their arrogant, exploitive boss.

The scene where Michael Landon, as Little Joe, hides behind a tree fooling his big goofy brother, Hoss, into thinking he’s found a leprechaun makes me laugh out loud every year.

Yes, I still watch it. It’s a tradition that I just couldn’t abandon. I now have my own copy – on VHS, no less – and I make my husband watch it with me every year. I do my best to recruit other family members as well. It’s the one way that St. Patrick’s Day has stayed the same, in spite of our celebration changing over the years.

The last couple of years my mom, my sister and I have been attending the St. Patrick’s Day tea at the Maritime Heritage Centre, entertained by the Tara School of Irish Dancing.

Prior to that, we saw former Irish Rover John Reynolds perform at the Riptide.

This year, my mom and I will be seeing the Irish Rovers at the Tidemark Theatre. Although they won’t be here until the day after St. Patrick’s Day, it still counts!

This will be my third time seeing the Rovers in concert and I’m just as excited as the first time to listen to the rollicking Rovers and their foot-tapping, head-bopping Celtic jigs and Irish ditties.

There’s nothing I love more than the catchy melodies of the Irish jigs and reels.

Just a part of St. Patrick’s Day’s charm.

There’s also the silly costumes, shamrock head bands, leprechaun hats, and gaudy green necklaces – all a nod to the Irish, known for their beer and having a good time.

And a way to recognize what started out as a religious feast day for St. Patrick – the patron saint of Ireland, who was born in Britain, jailed and taken to Ireland as a slave.

He escaped at the age of 20 and grew up to become a bishop, preaching across Ireland for 40 years.

St. Patrick used the iconic shamrock associated with Ireland as a way to illustrate the Holy Trinity – the concept of one God in three persons: the Father, his Son, and the Holy Spirit. St. Patrick died on March 17, AD 461 – a day that has been celebrated in his honour for centuries.

What started as a feast day for one of the Catholic church’s most beloved saints, has evolved over the years to a celebration of Irish culture and folklore.

Even though I’m one week and a day early, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I hope most of you will be celebrating and will don your best green clothing.