A Mexican Toast to an Irish Saint
By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Thursday, March 17, is St. Patrick’s Day, and, at least for 24 hours, just about everyone is Irish, or, as the old Dublin saying goes, “wishes they were.”
And even though the Irish community in Mexico is relatively small – less than 5,000, including descendants of the martyred San Patricios, an artillery battalion made up of mainly Irish Catholics who fought for Mexico in the Mexican-American War of 1846 to 1848 – the País Azteca will be joining in the “global greening” experience with a shamrock-hued illumination of the capital city’s iconic Ángel de Independencia monument, as well as the Revolution Monument, the Cuauhtémoc Monument, the Government Palace (City Hall), the Mexico City Congressional Building, the Petroleum Monument, the Chocolate Museum, the Soumaya Museum and the Foreign Relations Secretariat.
The patron saint of Ireland, who helped expansion Christianity throughout the European country, will also be celebrated this year in Mexico with a San Patricio Fest that will include both virtual and in-person activities, including a parade through the streets of Mexico City.
This seventh edition of the St. Paddy’s Parade will be held at the capital’s Museo de Intervenciones, and will include performances of Celtic music and dance.
Elsewhere in Mexico, Cancun will be celebrating the luck of the Irish by greening its Municipal Palace, and Guadalajara, Puebla and San Miguel Allende will also will light up monuments with a flood of shamrock-hued beams.
St. Patrick’s Day is the national holiday of the Emerald Isle, and it commemorates death of that nation’s patron saint, Patrick Maewyn, in the year 461. (No one knows exactly when he was born, so the Irish celebrate his death anniversary instead.)
As a young bishop, the Welsh-born Patrick spent more than 30 years in Ireland and was almost single-handedly responsible for the widespread conversion of the island to Catholicism.
Over the centuries, many myths about the saint have flourished, including claims that he raised the dead and drove the snakes from Ireland, but few of these stories have been substantiated.
What is known is that St. Patrick set up a massive network of schools and churches that laid the foundation for much of that European nation’s subsequent cultural and social development.
Originally, St. Patrick’s Day was only celebrated in Ireland as a solemn religious holiday.
But by the 1700s, it began to evolve into a global secular holiday, particularly in the United States, where Irish immigrants organized St. Paddy’s Day parades as a show of patriotism and a manifestation of their discontent with their low social status in America.
Today, St. Patrick’s Day is recognized as an international celebration of Irish heritage and culture, with shamrocks and leprechauns symbolizing a universal passion and appreciation of the Land of Saints and Scholars.
Here is Mexico, the Irish and their descendants left an important mark on the nation’s rich cultural and historic heritage, most notably Spanish viceroy Juan O’Donojú, muralists Juan O’Gorman and Pablo O’Higgins, real-life Zorro William Lamport, and Álvaro Obregón (O’Brien), who served as president from 1920 to 1924.
Combined two-way trade between the countries continues to grow, reaching more than $2 billion.
In fact, about 65 percent of Ireland’s total sales to Latin America are earmarked for Mexico.
And Irish companies in Mexico now employ about 7,000 workers in a wide range of sectors, including paper production, food processing and dairy.
So, happy St. Patrick’s Day, and don’t forget to wear green on Thursday, or you might get pinched.