|We don't need St Patrick's Day...we're Irish everyday! (Photo: Citybuzz)
After the annual Easter Uprising Mass at The Pro-Cathedral of Saint Patrick in Newark there is a mighty crowd at the landmark pub called McGovern’s in New Street.
God bless the place, for if it wasn’t for that bar I wouldn't be here typing. My parents met there in the early 1960s after my mother arrived in the States, from the County Mayo.
It was there last Easter that an Irish American friend posed a question to me, a thought that wasn’t of his own making: "What would we be if we weren’t Irish?"
The obvious, simple and real answer is we are Americans.
But that answer would not begin to cover heritage and experience. Truly, it wouldn’t begin to explain thousands of individuals and their stories and their histories.
Our Italian American friends are only after celebrating Columbus Day.
They have a bit of controversy to deal with about their day. The moral and historical debate aside; are Italian Americans celebrating the man or their heritage?
Let’s forget the stereotypes of every ethnic group in America, what are we celebrating here in the States when we celebrate a group’s heritage?
On March 17, are we celebrating a man or Ireland or something larger that is part of American history tied to one small European island?
Journalist Brian Donohue from nj.com did a brilliant piece about Columbus Day.
“And one personal theory of mine?” he wrote, “Unlike St. Patrick's Day and Cinco de Mayo, other ethnic holidays whose continuance is artificially propagated (and warped) by beer and liquor companies, Columbus Day - for better or worse - hasn't been the subject of such annual marketing blitzes.”
Neither St. Patrick’s Day nor Cinco de Mayo was ever a national holiday with the kids getting off from school in America. Columbus Day is just fading from the official government holiday calendar.
So we, or businesses, make the days our own celebrations.
Not on purpose, I happened upon a half-way to St. Patrick’s Day party at a local pub in September.
While talking with friends, a lovely young woman from a local beer distributor stopped to offer me a plastic green hat and green beads to celebrate the non-holiday.
Without thought, argument or debate, the answer to her was simple.
“No thanks, I am Irish every day,” said I.