Happy Saint Patrick’s Day regardless of your ancestry

4 mins read


On Tuesday, March 17, Americans across the country will celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. Even people with no Irish ancestry will wear green.

Employees will sit around their offices eating green frosted cupcakes. The men will wear their Shamrock ties and the women will put on their Leprechaun scarves.

All the local bakery shops will serve green frosted donuts and (heaven help us), the local bars will serve green beer. Of course, a dark glass of Guinness is also acceptable for the holiday.

And even though my spouse will only drink his Heineken (a Dutch beer), at least it comes in a green bottle.

Now when I was a child, my parents made a big deal out of Saint Patrick’s Day. My mother’s name was Claire Kelly – talk about Irish!

And my Dad’s mother was also part Irish. And like many descendants of the Irish, we always celebrated.

Dad would put on a pot of corned beef and cabbage and it would be simmering in a pot all day. He would also concoct a mustard sauce to put on the food. It was delicious.

However recently, I had my DNA tested and, lo and behold, there in my DNA, was proof that I also had Viking blood running through my veins. According to the paperwork, many Norwegian women have light eyes (blue or green) blonde hair (my original hair color) and are of tall stature.

“My People!” I said to my spouse.

Yes, there is still a lot of Irish in my DNA, but I was excited to learn of this Viking connection. Now with all the new genetic testing, it turns out that many of the Irish descendants have some ancestors from Norway. The Irish coastal towns were popular with the Vikings and it was the Vikings, after all, who founded towns like, Dublin, Wexford, Waterford, and Cork. Their recorded history in Ireland dates to 795 A.D.

After reading up about the Irish and Norwegian history, I realized I did not know my Viking holidays. I knew that Saint Patrick’s Day commemorates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland but was unaware that Norway also celebrates the arrival of Christianity with Saint Olaf’s Day.

And so, in order to honor my newly discovered ancestors, I plan on celebrating Saint Olaf’s Day which is July 29. I was also pleasantly surprised to find out that the Norwegians eat a popular dish called Kumla which is made up of chopped ham and grated potato. Now I can plan my Saint Olaf Day dinner menu.

And so, to honor all my ancestors I bid you – Slan Abhaile (safe home) in Irish Gaelic and Hadet (good-bye) in Norwegian.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to you, regardless of your ancestry.

Lee Scott, a writer and recent retiree, shares her everyday observations about life after career. A former commercial banker responsible for helping her clients to reach their business objectives, Scott now translates those analytical skills to her writings. She lives on St. Helena Island and enjoys boating, traveling and reading.

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