Annual Essay Contest
“The Meaning of St. Patrick’s Day”
Essay Contest for Georgia High School Students
2012 Essay Contest Winner
Shirley Wang with Dr. Flannery
Beneath the Shamrock Green of America
Stores are stocked with rows and rows of shamrock‐green merchandise, ranging from shimmering emerald necklaces to bowler hats. School halls are filled with the unmistakable flash of shamrock green among the students. Shamrocks, green shamrocks. Only one holiday comes to mind: St. Patrick’s Day. When we were little elementary school students parading around the jungle gyms, or hectic kindergarteners learning the ABCs, we probably thought of St. Patrick’s day as the day when the devious small leprechauns would appear with their pots of gold, and, if we were lucky enough, we would be able to catch one of them and claim our prize. Of course, our beliefs were not unfounded; many television shows broadcast St. Patrick’s day special cartoons involving these little humanoid creatures decked out in a green top hat and a green suit sprinting about, feverishly running to escape covetous human eyes. But as we get older, these mystical creatures become just another fairytale, and the side of St. Patrick’s Day devoid of pots of gold and leprechauns becomes clearer—or does it?
Walk through any school on St. Patrick’s Day, and you will find tinges of green here and there. You will definitely spot a few shamrocks. Of course, these schools aren’t just American schools. Or Irish schools. Canada, Australia, Japan, Singapore and Russia are just a few of the many countries sharing the St. Patrick’s Day spirit. So, why have so many people gathered to celebrate this holiday? It is not a holiday like Christmas, where people all over the world exchange gifts with loved ones. It is not a holiday like New Years, where people all over the world clink their glasses at twelve AM. It is not a holiday like those two, so why is it internationally recognized?
Perhaps it is the shamrock green of St. Patrick’s Day. Here in the United States, the shamrock green symbolizes acceptance—the wholehearted embracement of all racial and ethnic groups. The very first procession to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day was held in America herself in 1767; Irish soldiers in the British Army, who then were occupying New York, boldly marched through the streets, to proclaim, through the exhilarating parade and the festive music their Irish identity, while revisiting their Irish roots. This is today the same green that joins brothers and sisters, daughters and sons, of different countries together in the warmth of an affectionate home—a home that includes every different color of the world, a home for the old and the young, the driven and the lost. It is the green that bonds us as individuals to the eternally beating heart of Mother Earth, encouraging other hearts throughout the world to join us, all our hearts beating together in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.
This is the same shamrock green that drives the hearts and hopes of many as they journey through treacherous ordeals to arrive at their intended destination, whether it be America, or someplace else. The shamrock green forever represents their hopes and dreams for a better life. The shamrock green is the river of endurance, the river of the tears and sweat suffered as they stride against the pressures of the world; it is the shamrock green of determination. The shamrock green is the meadows and the valleys we find after our long journeys; the blooming flowers are the awards of our persistence through all our burdens.