I celebrated a rich tradition this St. Patrick's Day, one that I've honored for several years.
I didn't wear green.
I didn't drink green beer or, in fact, anything of either category.
I didn't sing an Irish drinking song.
I didn't claim that there's a bit of Irish in my blood, somewhere on my father's side.
See, every St. Patrick's Day, I remember (again) that I do, in fact, have traceable heritage, and today, once again, I went and looked up when St. Joseph's Day is. I'm generally an American mutt (shorthair domestic, thank you), but I'm a quarter Czech on my mother's side, and St' Joseph's is a pretty big deal--their St. Patrick's Day, though "a little more tame" according the myczechrepublic site.
But this got me thinking about heritage, what we hang on to and what we forget. I mused to a friend today, "I want to travel back in time and chat with an Irish New Yorker in, say, 1872. And I want to tell him, 'Don't worry about all this insane persecution you're dealing with right now. In 140 years, New Yorkers will be claiming they're Irish up one side and down the other, and will be drinking watery green beer to prove it.'" but the persecution isn't the fun part of history to claim. Nobody wants that part.
Instead, we claim the parties and the festivals, like out cultural histories were a Spring Break photo album set to slideshow.
I'm no better. I don't speak Czech, the only history I know is what I remember from an 8th grade research paper, and I have to look up what day St. Joseph's is every year.
It's this Monday, by the way. And I bought the supplies (yes, Mom, even the poppyseed filling) for kolaches today. I'll bake them tomorrow, and by the time I walk into work with them on Monday morning, I'll swear it's my annual tradition.