Merlino & Gonzalez - March 2020

COMPLETELY DIFFERENT ROOTS

Celebrating St. Paddy’s Day in Ireland vs. America

The observation of St. Patrick’s Day grew in popularity in cities with large Irish populations, like Boston, New York, and Chicago. Then, in the booming post-World War II economy, various businesses aggressively marketed the holiday to Americans of all heritages. Thus, it became a day when anyone could celebrate Irish American heritage, or at least it gave everyone an excuse to drink like they believe the Irish do. Ironically, imbibing was not a part of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Ireland until relatively recently. Due to the religious nature of the holiday, pubs and bars closed down on March 17 until 1961. Additionally, the traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage is another American addition. In Ireland, pork and cabbage was actually more common, but impoverished Irish immigrants substituted less expensive beef for pork, and the tradition stuck. Even though the most widely observed St. Patrick’s Day celebrations originated in America, many of them have found their way back to Ireland. Starting in 1996, the St. Patrick’s Day Festival in Dublin now attracts over 1 million attendees with all the drinks and revelry that Americans love. You’d be hard pressed to find a green beer, though. In the hallowed birthplace of Guinness and whiskey, some traditions may be better left across the pond.

From extravagant parades to green-dyed rivers, something about St. Patrick’s Day feels quintessentially American — despite its Irish heritage. That’s because many common St. Patrick’s Day traditions actually originated in America, evolving beyond their roots in the Emerald Isle in a few key ways. On March 17, Irish folks commemorate the death of St. Patrick, who brought Christianity to pagan Ireland during the late fourth and early fifth centuries. Historically, these religious origins make for a more somber observance of St. Patrick’s Day. Many Irish families go to church and eat a modest feast as the extent of their celebration. However, St. Patrick’s Day in America is not so much about venerating Ireland’s patron saint as it is about celebrating Irish heritage in a foreign land. When Catholic Irish immigrants first came to the United States, they faced persecution from a largely Protestant population. In response, Irish Americans began using March 17 as a day to publicly declare and celebrate Irish heritage with parades and demonstrations.

WHOSE PICKS WILL GO ALL THE WAY? March Madness Fun for the Whole Family

One of the greatest things about March Madness is that you don’t have to be a huge college basketball fan to get in on the fun. Kids of all ages can fill out brackets — or have a parent fill one out for them — and watch their picks duke it out on the court. While healthy competition among family members can be fun all on its own, check out the following tips if you’re looking to go the extra mile and reap as much fun from March Madness as you can. TURN EACH GAME INTO AN EVENT. Not every kid may like watching basketball, but if they fill out a bracket, then they might gain at least a passing interest in who will win each game. To elevate their interest, turn each March Madness matchup into a little party. It doesn’t have to be fancy; make fun snacks to eat while you watch or bet pieces of candy on who will have the most points to create great family bonding opportunities. REWARD THE WINNERS WITH PRIZES. Offer prizes to each round winner as well as the overall bracket winner to get the whole family involved. Small prize ideas for each round can include a homemade dinner of the winner’s choice, a week’s supply of their favorite snack, or a coupon for getting out of a chore. Whoever wins the whole tournament (or makes it the furthest with their bracket) deserves a bigger reward. Offer them the chance to see a movie of their choice in theaters or to eat a meal at their favorite restaurant.

CREATE A LEARNING OPPORTUNITY. Learning math or geography might not sound like your child’s idea of fun, but it can be when they learn it through the lens of March Madness. See if your kids would be interested in understanding the inner workings of the ranking system or studying where some of the qualifying colleges are located on a map of the United States. They may find it so interesting that they don’t even realize they’re learning valuable skills.

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