Irish I was Italian

Celebrating St. Patrick's and St. Joseph's Day in the US

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Irish I was Italian

Art by Katherine Quinn

Art by Katherine Quinn

Art by Katherine Quinn

Art by Katherine Quinn

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Every year, Christians celebrate a variety of holidays. In the United States, once Christmas has come and gone, Christians have to wait until Easter for the next family gathering. However, March is a big celebratory month for the Irish-Americans and Italian-Americans.

Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17 in both Ireland and the United States. Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is credited for establishing Christianity in Ireland in 432 AD. Legend has it that Saint Patrick banished all of the snakes from Ireland.

In Ireland, Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated as a religious holiday. The Irish celebrate with local parades and festivals. Some festivities include traditional Gaelic dances and music. The Irish gather together for a meal and eat corned beef, cabbage and potatoes. In Ireland, people do not celebrate at the bar.

However, in the United States, Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated a different way. Irish-Americans celebrate with parades, live music and beer. Typically, Irish dancers perform to live music in front of crowds. People dress in green to celebrate. In Chicago, the river is even dyed green. The Irish-Americans celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day as a big party, not as a religious holiday.

Similarly, Saint Joseph’s Day is celebrated on March 19 in Italy and the United States. Saint Joseph, the patron saint of the universal Church, is credited for answering the prayers of the people in medieval Sicily by ending the drought. In return, the Italians promised to provide a feast for Saint Joseph.

In Italy and in the United States, Saint Joseph’s Day is celebrated as a religious holiday. Both the Italians and Italian-Americans celebrate by setting up a Saint Joseph altar. On the altar, people put food, candles, rosaries, medals and prayer cards to honor Saint Joseph. Fava beans are also placed on the altar. Fava beans are known to be the only food that survived the drought. Lemons are set on the altar by women to increase their chances of finding a husband.

Traditionally, people celebrate Saint Joseph’s Day by wearing red. Italians wear red to show patriotism to Italy, as the color red appears on the flag.

Families gather together and eat a special Saint Joseph’s Day feast. Their feast consists of Italian fried olives, spaghetti with pesto, tomato mozzarella salad, Sicilian-style stuffed eggplant and Tuscan grilled trout. For dessert, the Italians and Italian-Americans eat a delicious deep-fried zeppole filled with custard and fig cookies.

Overall, March has two very important holidays for the Irish-Americans and the Italian-Americans. In Ireland, Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated as a religious holiday unlike in the United States, where Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated as a party. In Italy and the United States, Saint Joseph’s Day is celebrated as a religious holiday.

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