Berger’s Burg: St. Patrick’s Day greens bring luck, full stomachs

Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like TimesLedger on Facebook.

The Irish claim they are the greatest fighters, the greatest drinkers and the greatest lovers. Well, two out of three ain’t bad.

The Irish always fight among themselves to be sure of having worthy adversaries.

Editorial assistant Alison Daley was once asked what she would be if she weren’t Irish? “Ashamed!”

New York City held its first St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 17, 1762. A peek at the calendar tells me that this religious and festive celebration will soon make its 241st appearance. Forget about preparing your income tax, following the antics of “The Osbournes” and making the customary visit to your mother-in-law’s. It is the time for everyone in Berger’s Burg country and beyond to declare themselves Irish.

Gloria knows that on this special day I crave a change of cuisine — from Italian, Chinese and Jewish to huge heaps of that grand Irish fare. This, despite the olde Irish recipe for longevity: “Leave the table hungry. Leave the bed sleepy. Leave the tavern thirsty.” So, good wife that she is, Gloria caters to my annual Irish gastronomical compulsions.

For breakfast, she prepares Irish soda bread, which is dipped into a bowl of piping hot Irish oatmeal. I wash down this delicious concoction with several cups of strong Irish coffee. In the event of an emergency, I always keep two bottles of Imodium handy.

For lunch I desire a light meal, so Gloria always fries a pan of scrambled eggs (dyed green, of course), garnished with parsley and a wee bit of asparagus. This year, Gloria wants to be more creative. She will add a little creamed spinach on the side.

And for dinner, my obliging partner-for-life cooks up the most comestible meal this side of Shannon — corned beef (kosher, of course), cabbage, kale, turnips and green potatoes, with umpteen mugs of stout to wash down all the roughage. Don’t worry. Remember, I still have that Imodium at my beck and call.

Before preparing my feast, Gloria will neatly stack a green shirt, green trousers and green socks from my “Irish” wardrobe. The clothing will be systematically adorned over my bed so I can quickly climb into it when I awaken. If I choose to be formal, she will dig out my large green bow tie to wind around my neck for emphasis. I will look like a leprechaun in days of yore. And that is not all.

Usually, after dressing in my “greenery” and devouring the verdant goodies, I become stricken with a strange desire to pet an Irish wolf hound or setter. But if none of these exquisite breeds is available, I go to “Plan B,” which is reading a play by Sean O’Casey or renting the 1947 movie “How Green Is My Valley,” with Maureen O’Hara and Barry Fitzgerald.

I then read or watch until Gloria calls me for the next meal. May the wind not be at my back if I fail to perform these St. Patrick’s Day rituals. And, who would ever guess that I am not even Irish?

Do not consider my behavior strange since many other non-Irish people have similar compulsions on St. Patrick’s Day. They wear green, eat typical Irish food, exhibit “Kiss Me I’m Irish” buttons and celebrate the day by doing everything “Irish.” Why?” you ask. This is not a quiz so I will tell you.

Wearing green has been a symbol of the Irish since the reign of Queen Victoria of England. It is a reminder of the green that paints the countryside of Ireland. In fact, this island nation is so green that it is called the “Emerald Isle.” Green is also the color of the shamrock, the national flower of Ireland. No, the unicorn is not green.

St. Patrick’s Day is both a holy day and a national holiday. It was named in honor of the patron saint of Ireland, who, strangely enough, was born in Scotland. Besides the Christian faith, he brought to Ireland reading, writing and the Latin language. And despite persistent rumors to the contrary, his accomplishments did not include originating the Irish sweepstakes nor inventing Irish stout.

According to legend, St. Patrick (A.D. 385 - 461) planted the first shamrocks. This small, green plant resembles a clover. It has three leaves on each side. Since three is considered a lucky number, the tri-leafed plant is said to bring good fortune to its bearer.

Do you think it would bring me good luck if I brought three shamrocks to Atlantic City? I would place the first shamrock on top of the roulette wheel, the second on the lower lever of the slot machine and the third in the right ear of the Blackjack dealer.

“Goonish Helfen!” With my luck, I would lose my three dollars. St. Patrick also was believed to have driven all the snakes out of Ireland. We certainly could use him to drive away the human, evil snakes of today.

For many of the Irish, the day is primarily a highly religious one and I admire them for it. I remember when I was severely admonished by a reader because I referred to St. Patrick as “St. Paddy” in my column. He taught me that this misnomer is quite offensive to the Irish. It is a good thing I was wearing a shamrock at the time.

The following homage, written by an unknown poet, generally describes the Irish very well. “They’re wild and they’re gentle. They’re proud and they’re humble. They’re happy and sad. They’re in love with the ocean, the earth and the skies. They’re enamored with beauty — wherever it lies. They’re victor and victim, a star and a clod. But mostly they’re I R I S H, in love with their God.”

On this St. Patrick’s Day, Gloria and I offer two separate blessings to all Irish lads and lassies: Gloria — “May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night and the road downhill all the way to your door.”

Alex — “May those who love you, love you. And those that don’t love you, may God turn their hearts. And if He doesn’t turn their hearts, may He turn their ankles, so you’ll know them by their limping.”

Oops! I forgot one more. “May you never forget what is worth remembering. Or remember what is best forgotten.” Have a joyful and very green St. Patrick’s Day. And if you drink, don’t drive. And if you drive, don’t drink. Erin Go Bragh!

Reach columnist Alex Berger by e-mail at or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 140.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like TimesLedger on Facebook.

Reader feedback

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

CNG: Community Newspaper Group