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March 10, 2010 > Be Irish for a day

Be Irish for a day

By Suzanne Ortt
Photos By Doris Nikolaidis

The luck of the Irish to you. Just about everyone becomes a bit Irish on March 17 to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, wearing green and dining on corned beef and cabbage. Children likely will create crafts at school or preschool. Sports enthusiasts can organize a game of Gaelic Football - a mix of rugby, soccer, and basketball which predates all three. The rules and regulations are few (check out the website given below for rules).

The country of Ireland observes St. Patrick's Day with six days of street theatre, music, comedy, outdoor spectaculars, dance, and visual art. 'Tis a bit far to travel to Ireland, so celebrate here at home. Dublin, California which is much closer has a two-day celebration and a one-day parade.

The day honoring St. Patrick highlights both his religious feast day and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over a thousand years. As the observance usually fell during Lent, people would go to church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon or evening. Church prohibitions against the consumption of meat in Lent were waived and people danced, drank, and feasted on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.

To begin a celebratory mood, family and friends can play a fun game of St. Patrick's Day Trivia. Here are a several questions and facts to help with the answers. (Any search engine could provide more Irish facts.)

What is the Celtic word for shamrock? The shamrock, which was also called the "seamroy" by the Celts, was a sacred plant in ancient Ireland because it symbolized the rebirth of spring.

When did the shamrock become a symbol of emerging Irish nationalism? By the seventeenth century, the shamrock became a symbol of emerging Irish nationalism. As the English began to seize Irish land and make laws against the use of the Irish language and the practice of Catholicism, many Irish began to wear the shamrock as a symbol of pride in their heritage and their displeasure with English rule.

Why are there no snakes in Ireland? The common belief is because Ireland is an island. The story of St. Patrick driving snakes out of Ireland is a myth since no snakes were ever found in Ireland.

How much corned beef and cabbage was sold in the United States in 2007 for the traditional St. Patrick's Day meal? That year, roughly 41.5 billion pounds of U.S. beef and 2.6 billion pounds of U.S. cabbage were sold.

What is the real St. Paddy's Day meal in Ireland? Boiled bacon and cabbage is the closest. Corned beef and cabbage is an Irish-American dish.

What is boiled bacon? This refers to any joint of pork except the leg, which is ham. The cooking process is complicated and time-consuming.

What city dyes its river green to celebrate St. Patrick's Day? Chicago. It started this unique tradition in 1962. One hundred pounds of green vegetable dye was dumped into the river; enough to keep it green for a week. Today, for environmental protection, 40 pounds is used, which only lasts a few hours.

Where was the first St. Patrick's Day parade? It was held in New York City, March 17, 1762. Irish soldiers serving the English military marched through the city accompanied by Irish music.

What is the oldest and largest civilian parade? In 1848, several New York Irish Aid societies decided to unite their parades to form one St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York City. Today, that parade is the world's oldest civilian parade and the largest in the United States, with over 150,000 participants.

St. Patrick's Day, Wednesday, March 17 is the day to be Irish at heart. The only rules are to have fun, wear a bit of green, and enjoy the luck of the Irish.

Schedule of events:

Leprechaun Land for Wee Folk
Friday, March 12
5 p.m. - 8 p.m.
For children ages 3 - 6 years
Fremont Teen Center
39770 Paseo Padre Parkway, Fremont
(510) 494-4349
$9 per participant in advance
$15 at the door

St. Patrick's Day Lunch
Friday, March 12
11:30 a.m.
Ruggieri Senior Center
33997 Alvarado-Niles Blvd., Union City
(510) 675-5495
$3.25 seniors / $4.50 non-seniors
Reservations required 24 hours in advance

St. Patrick's Day Celebration
Saturday, March 13 & Sunday, March 14
10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Dublin Civic Center Parking Lot
100 Civic Plaza, Dublin
(925) 556-4500
Free Admission & Free Parking
No Pets Allowed

St. Patrick's Day Parade
Saturday, March 13
9:30 a.m.
Sponsored by Dublin Lions Club
Parade begins on Amador Plaza Road and proceeds east on Dublin Boulevard.
Contact Bill Burnham (925) 828-6636

St. Patrick's Day Lunch and Sing-a-long
Wednesday, March 17
12:00 noon
Fremont Senior Center
40086 Paseo Padre Parkway, Fremont
(510) 790-6600
Tickets - $5.00 members / $7.00 non-members. Purchase tickets early.

St. Patrick's Day Lunch - Traditional Menu
Wednesday, March 17
11:45 a.m.
Newark Senior Center at Silliman Activity Center
6800 Mowry Avenue, Newark
$3.25 per person. Reservations 24 hours in advance.
(510) 578-4840

Luck of the Irish Event
Hidden Clover Search
Silliman Activity Center
6800 Mowry Avenue, Newark
Friday, March 19
5 p.m. - 8 p.m.
(510) 742-4400
Search for clovers; submit the number found to front desk.
Three winners, with closest to total hidden, will receive Silliman Fun Packs.

St. Patrick's Day Children's Activities and Crafts:
Search St. Patrick's Day crafts to find more websites.

Gaelic Football Rules:

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