By Leslie Lindsay
What’s the deal with St. Patrick’s Day, anyway?! Around Chicagoland, I would venture to say A LOT! At exercise class this morning, I spied several knee-high socks sporting green argyle and shamrocks, Chicago Irish t-shirts, Derby hats, and more. In fact, tomorrow is the Zumbathon “Shake Your Shamrocks”–that’s 2 full hours of dancing!! I wore my tiny Kelly green socks and matching t-shirt, but I don’t know…I wasn’t feeling much like a lassie.
Here in the Windy City, we Chicgoans go all out for the annual green-fest that commemerates Irish immigrants and culture–whether we’re actually Irish, or not. We dye the river green, we drink green beer, and we get into brawls on the south side. (Yep, decided after witnessing my first and only south side Irish parade that it wasn’t a place I’d return with my young family in tow). But why?!
I do know this: Chicago was one of the first places Irish immigrants could actually find work. Like many early immigrants, this was obviously a big deal (Think: The I&M Canal). “NO IRISH NEED APPLY” (ouch!) was a sign oft found hanging in storefront windows. Read here to find out more about this rude behavior on the employers parts back then: http://www.kinsella.org/history/histira.htm. For more information on the Irish in Chicago and the history of St. Patrick’s Day, read on:
- History of Irish in Chicago Narrative and Historical Research from NIU http://www.lib.niu.edu/1999/iht629912.html
- The History of St. Patricks’s Day: Chicago Celebrates! http://www.chicagonow.com/get-employed/2012/03/the-history-of-st-patrick%E2%80%99s-day-chicago-celebrates/
- From the Encyclopedia of Chicago: http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/652.html
For that, I say…bottoms up! (Guiness, anyone?!)