One of the most interesting aspects of St. Patrick's Day (for me at least) is how the holiday has been completely secularized. It's almost getting to the point where people don't even talk about the mythological aspects of St. Patrick anymore (driving the snakes out of Ireland) and especially never discuss what he's factually credited with (bringing Christianity to Ireland). In fact, the holiday is so easy to digest that it has become a worldwide day of drinking, wearing green and general merriment, even in a serious city like Paris, and I couldn't be more okay with the holiday's transition.
Fifty years ago I stood on a street corner in Charlottetown, watching members of the Benevolent Irish Society march in parade formation to the Basilica for St. Patrick’s Day mass. Forty years ago I marched in the parade myself, playing trumpet with the Colonel Gray band.
This year I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in Paris.
France and Ireland have a long shared history—military, political, literary, cultural. Some of that history is sad, some of it glorious. France supported Ireland during its failed uprising against British rule in 1798. Irish women and men, including author Samuel Beckett, played important roles in the French Resistance during the Second World War.