St. Patrick’s Day in Armenia. Well, now at least there’ll be an entry should anyone else ever Google this phrase, which seems unlikely. St. Patrick’s Day will not be as big a deal here as it is in my native Ireland or in most cities in the U.S. In Ireland, we pin bunches of shamrock–the national symbol of Ireland–to our lapels and maybe watch a game of rugby before enjoying a plate of champ–mashed potatoes mixed with spring onions and a lot of butter, salt and pepper–washed down with a glass or two of Guinness, or the libation of our choice. There might be a parade, but it is nothing compared to the excess of celebrations in New York, and other places claiming Irish-American heritage in the US. St. Patrick’s Day in the US is distinguished by pints and pints of green beer, people dressed up as leprechauns, and rowdy singing of songs that are often Scottish not Irish in origin. In my authentic Irish opinion it is best avoided.
Here in Armenia, I will be attempting to share the essence of Ireland and our patron saint with the young people I work with. I have put together a game of Irish bingo–and I am struck how similar our landscapes and customs are.
My bingo cards feature pictures of the house my grandfather grew up in in County Cavan, a misty day at Strangford Lough, and a dry stone wall from the mountains of Mourne. Any of these would be perfectly at home here in Armenia. To be sure, there aren’t many redheads in Armenia (I am the only one I know) and you don’t see fishing boats in this part of this landlocked country. But our green fields, purple mountains and grey stone crosses are all very similar–perhaps one of the reasons I love life in Armenia so much.
St. Patrick is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland in the 5th century–a full 200 years after the religion took hold here in the Caucasus. St. Patrick is also said to have driven the snakes out of Ireland and it is true we have none there today. His services would be welcome in Armenia where poisonous snakes can lurk in long grass and under the ubiquitous stones.
I hope my students enjoy their Irish Bingo and that they have the luck of the Irish all their lives. There is no Guinness here, but perhaps I’ll raise a glass of local Kilikia beer after class is done. It does come in a green bottle after all. Slainte.
Now all I need to do is find a color printer for my bingo cards…