I don’t think I ever celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in Northern Ireland. For most of my life it was not a national holiday. I have no fond feelings of the day as it was a religious holiday that highlighted the divide in the country.
It’s much easier to celebrate this living in Japan. When I tell people here that I am from Northern Ireland they assume that I am Irish. I don’t often try to correct them as even I have difficulty in deciding if I am British or Irish. To have to choose from either of those national identities feels wrong. I am Northern Irish and a child of the Troubles.
The first time I ever attended a St. Patrick’s Day party was in San Diego. This was also the only time I have ever eaten corned beef and cabbage. Last year I attended my first St. Patrick’s Day parade – though this was in Tokyo. This year Marty took the day off work and we went for a walk. We won’t be eating potatoes, wearing green, drinking Guinness, or singing sorrowful songs. Those are not the things that make us Irish, no matter what the Americans tell you.