One of my favorite things about St. Patrick’s Day is that every year Joe, weekday morning chef, makes something green for breakfast. When I stumble out to the table in my two-hour period of sleepy morning disorientation, a beautiful, steaming omelet with green, melting cheese, scrambled eggs bright green with pesto, or neon-green French toast awaits me. The Eating o’ the Green. Green is also one of my favorite clothing colors, earthy or fresh, and it’s tough to choose what to wear this holiday, which to me is a celebration of the greening of spring. Today I went with a Life is Good brand long-sleeved shirt printed with a tribal-tattoo guitar on the front.
I didn’t always have these green choices, though. When I was a kid my mother, who does not look well in certain shades of green, decided I wouldn’t either, so when it came time to dress for school on March 17th, and I came out whining about having nothing green to wear, the Fear of Pinching looming large ahead of me, she would tell me to find something orange, because that’s what the Protestants in Ireland wear on St. Paddy’s Day anyway. News to me, we were apparently Protestants. Who, I now knew, wore orange on St. Patrick’s Day, and were the opposites of Catholics, which naturally led me to the logic that they were somehow unable to have as many children as them, like my uncle and his Catholic wife who had six kids, (something I recalled my parents saying to each other in horror whenever they were mentioned). So, I’d wear something orange to school, speedily explaining about the Protestant tradition to the deaf pinching fingers approaching me, then eventually beg the teacher for a green construction paper shamrock to pin onto my shirt, then come home glowering and covered with bruises, that were ironically, on their way to becoming green. Thanks for painting me a little orange nerd, mom.
Eventually, of course, I learned about The Troubles in Ireland and the ongoing conflict (that even made it onto their flag) between the Catholics (green on the flag) and the Protestants (orange on the flag). (The white in the middle is for unity between the two.) And how St. Patrick (who wasn’t even born Irish) supposedly chased all the snakes out of Ireland (snakes symbolizing pagans). It’s all very parenthetical, (if you ask me). So, theoretically, mom was right. But, as I understand it, wearing orange on the Catholic holiday of St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland is just asking for trouble, which I’m sure she didn’t know….I think. As one with an Irish heritage, I say, in my typical American way: Whatever. I’m wearing green today, just to play it safe, because of the spring-thing, and unlike my mother, I happen to look good in green.