As a youngster growing up in the north, I kind of depended on 3 little bonus holidays – Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and April Fool’s Day – to get me through the last stretch of winter. Valentine’s Day, perfectly tucked between Christmas and Easter, warms the heart during frozen Februarys with its sugary treats, gift giving, and professions of mushy feelings. April Fool’s Day celebrates well-played tricks, usually a celebration for the trickster and the audience and nearly never for the one being tricked. My dad and my second oldest share birthdays on April 1st, guaranteeing they will open birthday cards stuffed with fake dollar bills for many years to come.
St. Patrick’s Day, with all its shamrocks and pinching, places importance on two odd elements: the color green and Irish roots. (And drinking, of course, but isn’t that true of most holidays in America? Think about it.) It’s the only holiday that allows participation by proper ancestry or by simply wearing the right color. No gifts to purchase, just slap on some Kelly green and you’re good.
I may not look the part, but I am most definitely Irish. I have the maiden name, the freckles, and the temper to prove it, although I like to believe the temper has waned over the years. She was not the Irish one of my two parents, but my mom never allowed her girls to leave the house on the 17th of March without donning a little green. It was a day to be proud of our roots – whether we knew what that meant or not. (Or whether we cared or not.)
Roots are important. History is a record of roots, really. Even the Bible contains genealogies and long lists of ancestry. People rely on knowledge of the past to keep them grounded and to keep them connected. Family roots are an effortless identity, allowing the identified to ‘belong’ without making any significant investment other than being born.
To identify myself as a Christ follower is to accept that my roots in my Savior didn’t take root because of me. He created me and He loved me – He even saved me – all without my help. Yes, I chose to trust Him as Savior, but only because He opened my heart to Him first. Jesus is the start and the finish of every good thing. My better life through Him and my new identity in Him wasn’t earned on my own. I can’t take credit for anything, but I can certainly celebrate. Every day of the year, in fact!
Irish roots or not, have some fun with today’s silly traditions. Eat potatoes and corned beef and wear your bobbly shamrock headband. Find the elusive four leaves amid the clovers, or go the mischievous route and pinch strangers who aren’t wearing green. Maybe you can’t wear a ‘Kiss me, I’m Irish’ shirt, but it’s okay. Genetics and luck aren’t needed to know Jesus – only faith.