San Giuseppe and St Patrick

This week sees the celebration of Two Saints' days that have become synonymous with the Italians and the Irish in the United States. The peculiar patterns of immigration in big American cities, and their celebration, used to be of great interest to me as my doctorate was on John Joseph Hughes, the first Archbishop of the City. Hughes helped build an Irish-American identity and probably saved the Irish from absolute absorption by the Democrat machines and the gangs.

The tenous nature of these sorts of celebration deserves a book in itself. I remember, for instance, how my gaelic grandad used to venerate not Patrick but Columba, like many in the north-west of Ireland ; and I have the bruises inflicted by various girlfriends after some observation or other on Italian nationality has offended some local patriotic chord.

Still, if you are Irish, Happy St Pat's, and if Italian, buona festa di San Giuseppe!

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