My parents were born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, in the 60s. In case you were wondering, yes, they have very thick Irish accents.
And no, I, sadly, do not.
I was born and raised in Honolulu. All of my family was born in Ireland and all of them live in Dublin, with the exception of one of my two older sisters. My parents moved to Oahu for work in the late 90s and just recently retired this past October, about a week after I moved from Honolulu to Kauai to work at The Garden Island, and are moving back to Europe next weekend for their retirement.
This year marks the first time I won’t be with my family for St. Patrick’s Day. My parents don’t drink, but St. Patrick’s Day is more about celebrating with friends and family than anything.
But don’t get me wrong. St. Patrick’s Day is a great reason to go out and drink, to sing and dance with friends or even a complete stranger.
But being on Kauai, where there is not a single Irish bar on island, is very strange for me.
Things you should know when celebrating St. Patrick’s day
In fact, growing up in Hawaii and celebrating St. Patrick’s Day was always strange. The way St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in America is not how it is celebrated in Ireland. Sure, there is a parade in Dublin and everyone enjoys themselves, but there are a lot of misconceptions about the Irish holiday that have always bothered me.
First of all, St. Patrick’s Day should be an actual holiday if it is going to be so widely celebrated. It’s a national holiday in Ireland, so why not make it one in America?
The whole concept of wearing green or else you’ll be pinched? Where did that come from? It certainly isn’t an Irish tradition.
Green beer? Irish people don’t need to dress up a beer to make it cute. Just drink a Guinness instead.
But when you do enjoy the taste of a Guinness, make sure to drink it responsibly. And by drinking responsibly, I mean make sure you drink a Guinness the proper way instead of drinking it the millisecond the bartender slides the pint to you from across the bar.
Patience is a virtue when drinking a Guinness. Wait for the head of the beer to reach the top of the glass — never drink a Guinness that is still brown or foaming. Wait for the beer to turn to a perfect black color, with the head of the beer near the rim of the glass before enjoying your first sip.
And when you do raise that cold, perfectly poured pint, don’t say “cheers!”
Because it’s St. Patrick’s Day, instead of cheers say Sláinte! Pronounced “slancha,” this is Gaelic for toasting to good health, be it physical or mental.
Another thing: Don’t ever say St. Patty’s Day. It’s St. Patrick’s Day or St. Paddy’s Day. It’s never going to be St. Patty’s Day. Ever.
Paddy is a shortened name for Pádraig, which is Patrick in English. It has never been — nor will it ever be — Patty. Patty is another name for Patricia, not a name normally associated with a man.
St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, but he isn’t Irish at all. He is actually Welsh.
A slave brought to Ireland at the age of seven, St. Patrick was forced to guard sheep for a number of years before he fled the country for France, where he trained as a priest before returning to Ireland. And when he did return to Ireland, he didn’t banish snakes from the Emerald Isle. Ireland has never had actual snakes.
Snakes are a reference to Paganism, and St. Patrick converted the people of Ireland to Christianity.
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year the right way, the Irish way. Have a traditional Irish dinner of corned beef with cabbage and make sure that roast potatoes are on the menu. While there isn’t an Irish bar on Kauai, there are other local establishments to go for a pint and celebrate the evening.
Kauai is a difficult place to drive at night as it is and we all want to make sure that we can all celebrate St. Patrick’s Day next year together, so don’t go too crazy on the alcohol. Besides, nobody enjoys seeing someone doing Irish yoga on a sidewalk.