In my family, St. Patrick’s Day was as big as Thanksgiving!
Because of this, I’ve always loved the holiday. In addition to it being a big part of my life as I was growing up, my husband and I first said “I love you” right before St. Patrick’s Day and I went to Miami University, home of Green Beer Day.
More important than any of that is that I was an Irish dance kid.
St. Patrick’s Day was such a big deal for my family because my mom, sister and I danced with the Celtic Academy of Dayton. There is a large Irish community in Dayton and many dance organizations. I danced from around age 6 to age 12. I often get asked to dance for people around the holiday. Luckily, I still remember a jig (and those I’m dancing for don’t realize how bad I am now).
St. Patrick’s Day as an Irish dance kid was amazing.
It’s been over 20 years since I was an Irish dancer, but I still remember what it was like. Some things have changed over the years, but many things have stayed the same.
So many curls.
I had long hair. My mom would literally put hundreds of tiny sponge rollers in my hair to achieve a head full of spiral curls. Now, most dancers use wigs instead of spending hours on the style. However, I wouldn’t give up the cool factor of wearing a head-full of curlers to elementary school in preparation for St. Patrick’s Day.
School wasn’t cancelled, but we got to miss school on St. Patrick’s Day to travel and perform. I looked forward to it every year and all of us dance kids made the most of it.
Backwards Dress Shirts.
Irish dancers wear beautiful dresses with elaborate cross-stitching. My mom cross-stitched the dresses my sister and I wore. So, there was no way she was going to let us get McDonald’s happy meals all over them. To protect the dresses, everyone wore one of their dad’s dress shirts backwards over the front of their dress. We thought this was super cool.
Feeling Like a Star.
Everyone wants to be Irish on St. Patrick’s day; so being an Irish dancer meant we were local celebrities for the day. We danced in front of big and small crowds at churches, nursing homes, schools, and bars.
I’ll let my daughter make her own decisions about what to get involved in when she gets older, but I’m hopeful that one of those decision is to Irish dance so that she might have a similar experience.