Lili – March 12, 2018

Much as my family enjoys celebrating its Danish roots, there’s one day of the year when everyone’s a little bit Irish – St. Patrick’s Day. When the girls were younger, Brad and I would take them into Chicago to see the dyeing of the river. It was so magical for them to watch the usually greyish water below our vantage point on the Michigan Avenue bridge turn bright green. I always loved the look on Anna’s face as the miracle occurred, but Olivia was always the more practical.

“If the river becomes green on St. Patrick’s Day, why isn’t it red and green on Christmas?” she asked.

Brad would tell her it was because by Christmas, the river would be frozen, to which she would say something like, “Well, why don’t they make the ice rink at the Millennium Park pretty colors?” It’s no wonder she’s studying art and design now that she’s in college.

I do think St. Patrick’s Day is a fun holiday, whether you are Irish or not. In fact, WalletHub just rated Chicago number one among five American cities in the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, beating out Boston, Philadelphia, Buffalo, NY, and New York City. To beat Boston in anything Irish is really saying something!

The dyeing of the Chicago River is just one of many events that make Chicago the #1 city in America for Irish fun!

Festive Chicago St. Patrick’s Day celebrations include the Southside Irish Parade, Northwest Side Irish Parade, WGN News’s St. Patrick’s Day Celebration, the aforementioned Dyeing of the Chicago River, and the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade. To have that many events centered upon St. Patrick in Chicago makes sense, as Irish-Americans are the largest ethnic group in Chicago.

But the Danes are in on the celebration, too, as Copenhagen will host its annual St. Patrick’s Day parade on the 17th, when families will dress in green and dance through the streets. Children will have their faces painted, while parents will shop for costumes, green hats and accessories. Adults will warm up with Irish coffee made with Tullamore Dew. And just like in the U.S., dancers will take to the stage to perform intricate step dances to live music from an Irish folk band.

Another Copenhagen tradition is the annual Three-Legged Charity Race, which is billed as the ultimate St. Patrick’s Day endurance test. It raises money for worthy causes while participants have fun racing with their legs tied together!

At home, I usually make corned beef and cabbage, and this year I took some soda bread to The Danish Home to share with my friend Britta. I found her reading a book in the gathering room.

Soda bread is a favorite Irish recipe and very popular on St. Patrick’s Day.

“What have you got there?” she said, peering into the paper bag.

“Homemade soda bread,” I replied. “To be honest, it’s not great. My baking skills are nowhere near as good as yours, but I thought it might go well with a cup of tea.”

“Soda bread for St Patrick’s Day!” she exclaimed. “How thoughtful, and quite a coincidence. I’m reading The Country Girls by Edna O’Brien, which is set in Ireland.”

A gentleman people at The Danish Home call Farfar (as his granddaughter Lindsay does) came over from the other side of the room to take a look. He gave the bag a quick sniff.

“Oh, my, soda bread!” he said. “I was just talking to Lindsay about that when we FaceTimed the other day,” he said, proudly waving an iPad. “Our old neighbors were Irish, and Patty used to make me a batch every year.”

I’m not sure what astounded me more: the soda bread coincidence or the fact that here was a 93-year-old man using an iPad!

“Well, I’m sure mine isn’t as good as hers,” I replied.

“I don’t know about that,” said Farfar, pinching a tiny piece off the corner. “Seems you might just have the luck of the Irish when it comes to baking.”