Happy St. Patrick’s Day! While this holiday for many is just small text on the calendar, St. Patty’s Day warrants real festivity in Boston. As we are all painfully aware, social gatherings have been restricted across the United States. “Social distancing” is the new norm to slow down the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus and makes celebrations of any kind near impossible. Today, Massachusetts banned dine-in service at all establishments, which outlaws traditional St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
St. Patrick’s Day is not an official holiday in the United States, however, college students have proven to be the most devote observers of the tradition. For my college community, St. Patrick’s Day was an excuse to drink green beer in the wee hours and continue through the evening. Bars were like small metal tins and the students were sardines. Flaunting their St. Patty’s Day pride, students would sport Kelly green outfits, paint their faces, and bedeck their bodies with shiny, plastic jewelry and accessories. On my campus, St. Patrick’s Day was about booze, bars, and bonding. I have fond memories of my first and only keg stand at a holiday party my senior year… good times. Boston, on the other hand, has a whole different way of celebrating the holiday.
According to the Boston Globe, 22.8% of Boston’s metropolitan area claims Irish descent—the biggest of any large American city. True to its roots, Boston goes hard for St. Patrick’s Day. One year, a few friends and I decided we wanted to engage in the holiday festivities…but, perhaps, we were not strategic enough. We paced the streets up and down but were unable to find a bar that was not already filled to capacity. Tired, hungry, and dejected, we settled on a normal bar and still had to wait half an hour for a tiny table for our whole party. We ordered beer and fries and even struck up a conversation with the table next to us, who were inadvertently our very close neighbors. Even though the bars were crowded and the service slow, it was nice to celebrate the holiday with a group.
People coming together in close quarters is at the core of this holiday. In the age of social distancing, it is just not possible to celebrate the holiday in the bastardized American way that we know and love. However, this is one small sacrifice we must make to help save the lives of many others. In need for some entertainment, I set out to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day my own way sans bars and sans green beer.
I was eager to try out cooking some Irish dishes in honor of the event, however, to be totally honest with you, I couldn’t find it within myself to get excited over boiling cabbage and potatoes. Instead, I took the holiday as an excuse to just cook something. I ended up making savory “muffins” with cheddar cheese, garlic, and chives. With ongoing shortages at the grocery stores, I had to make more than one trip to the markets to acquire all ingredients. The bread was rather simple to make, but because I did not have a muffin tin, the muffins turned out to be little blobs, which tasted…edible. Well, I tried!
To end the night the Irish way, I decided to pour myself a glass of beer and make a toast to the world’s most low-key St. Patty’s Day celebration…. But, I got tired and just drank water instead. I’ve come a long way from my college days.
Times are tough right now. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be a bar owner right now. I’m sure many companies had big plans for the booziest day of the year in this town only to have operations shut down at the last minute. I understand that the government is looking for ways to compensate Americans and business owners during this hard time. Whatever happens, I hope we all make it through this crisis unscathed. Our health is the most important thing, so if that means staying in for a few weeks to enjoy many more healthy years on this earth—then let’s make the sacrifice.
I really do hope that you are in good spirits today, Dear Reader. Everyday can be a holiday with the right mindset. I hope you have something to celebrate and enjoy tonight and every other night you find yourself social distancing and quarantining at home.