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Back when I lived in Chicago, St. Patrick’s Day was always my favorite holiday of the year, excluding Christmas and Easter. It is my saint’s day, naturally, and I tried to get out to Mass before the parade and assorted extravaganza. You might be interested to know that St. Patrick, who most people remember more for mythical reasons (drove the snakes out of Ireland, etc), was quite the trooper. He was the son of a nobleman, got captured and sent as a slave to Ireland, escaped and made it back to his native England, and then came back to help the people he had grown to love. I always appreciated the charity and pure pluck that took, which is why I took his name again at Confirmation. (And, I’ll confess, I have always been terrible at picking names and, having a perfectly decent one already, didn’t really go out of my way to find another.)
Speaking of St. Patrick’s Day parades, the most fun you will ever have at one is at the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Nagoya, Japan. It is, quite possibly, the world’s only St. Patrick’s Day parade which starts and ends at a Buddhist temple, which graciously permits the paradegoers to use their spacious courtyard every year. They need the space because in most years several hundred people participate, a healthy majority of them Japanese. (I have always wondered why it is so popular. There are the folks married into Irish families, obviously, and a few folks with deep interests in Irish culture, such as the best traditional band you’ll find on this side of the Pacific. But that didn’t account for the whole throng, clearly. I once asked a man “So, how did you come to attend the St. Patrick’s Day parade?” and he said he had been coming since their very first year, when he saw a bunch of white people with strange clothes and bagpipes walking around the city, so he just tagged along and has been tagging ever since. “We have a lot in common with the Irish. We’re an island nation, we love our festivals, and we know how to party.” True, true.)