St. Patrick’s Day has been one of my favorite holidays for as long as I can remember. Growing up with an Irish last name, red hair, and green eyes, peers never had to ask what my ancestry is – and I embraced it. One of my first real vacations (post-college with my own funds) was a trip to Ireland. To this day, even with my less memorable married name, I still look forward to wearing my green proudly on March 17 and celebrating a piece of my identity. I even named my kids Celtic names, in part because I wanted them to feel the same excitement that I have about my roots.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about how a tradition can shape your attitude toward something – in this case, a holiday. Traditions start young. Each year on St. Patrick’s Day, my dad loaded us into the van and drove us, clad in our green and shamrocks on our cheeks, to the parade. When we got home, my mom would whip up homemade fare favorites like soda bread and corned beef. Throughout the day music was always playing – but what I remember most was the mood. On St. Patrick’s Day, everyone was always in the best of spirits. These things, recreated year after year, resonated with me far beyond the actual holiday itself.
When you become a parent, at some point you’ll have to decide what traditions will be part of your family, even if it’s just to pass down your childhood ones. If you’re coming up with something new, you’ll need to stick with it if you want said ritual to become an actual tradition. As if that wasn’t hard enough, take it a step further and consider how those traditions could shape not just your child’s memories – but also their values, passions, and personality. Could the craft that you do every Valentines Day spark a lifelong passion for the arts? Could your annual Fourth of July camping trip foster a future career outdoors? Could your focus on educating children about religion on holidays lead to an adult who embraces their spirituality? Just the slightest bit intimidating.
Point being – traditions do matter. On St Patrick’s Day 2019 and each one after, you can find me attempting to cook an authentic Irish dish as good as the ones my mom used to make, listening to some Irish tunes, and doing something new – that, if I’m lucky, will strike a chord in the heart of a child.