Why St. Patrick's Day is Special for Irish Dancers

St. Patrick's Day Will Always Be An Irish Dancer's Favorite Holiday

Why this day will hold a special place in my heart forever

Emi
Emi
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My alarm clock goes off at approximately 4:30 a.m. I groggily roll out of bed, far before the sun will even begin to tinge the sky with hints of orange and purple, I begin to get ready for the day. I brush my teeth, wash my face, and comb my hair. Thus ends my normal morning routine. Next, I apply an unusual amount of makeup to my eyes, slather on bright red lipstick, and attach a ridiculously curly wig to my head. I glue poodle socks covered in rhinestones to my legs, bobby pins a crown (again, covered in rhinestones) to my head, and coat my entire body with a layer of hairspray. Today is far from a normal day. Today is St. Patrick's Day.

And I am an Irish dancer.

I begin the day dancing live on a local television network (thus, waking up at 4:30 am), and then I race through the Starbucks drive-through to get an extremely needed caffeine fix before heading to the parade downtown. Before the parade begins, my Irish dance class practices all our dances for the day on the side of the road. We then half walk, half jig our way through the parade route, throwing out shamrock necklaces and Tootsie Rolls to kids eagerly lining the streets. After finishing the parade, the whole dance school changes course and walks to our first performance venue located downtown.

After dancing in the library or science center or whichever location it was that year, we would hop on a golf cart (still in our glittery dresses and curly wigs), and scream as we literally raced downtown to our next show at a huge hotel party. After taking our final bows, we would then hop back in the golf cart and repeat the process until the exhausting yet exhilarating day finally ended sometime in the evening after around an average of seven different performances. My dance class would finish the day by hunting down the nearest McDonald's and sharing shamrock shakes together before collapsing into our beds at night. The night of St. Patrick's Day was the soundest sleep I got all year.

I repeated this process for 11 years of my life, from 2nd grade through the end of high school. I cannot say what exactly drew me to Irish dancing, but I remember falling in love with the upbeat music, the fast-paced steps, and the sparkly dresses. I would watch older dancers and marvel at how their feet could move in such complicated and quick ways without getting tangled together. Somehow, over the course of the years, I turned into the older dancers. I competed in competitions (called a "feis") all around the country. I performed at countless venues, from schools and churches to weddings and huge events in front of hundreds of people. I practiced until my feet were permanently covered in blisters, and I ended up needing ankle surgery on both of my ankles. However, I loved every single minute of Irish dancing. I loved the people in my class that I had the opportunity to grow up with and form forever friendships with, I loved the Irish music and culture I was exposed to, and I loved St. Patrick's Day.

I miss Irish dancing immensely in college. Every time I feel nostalgic, I turn on Irish music and can still perform the steps in my head to this day. I will always be able to decipher the difference between a reel or a jig, and the smells of hairspray and sock glue will never leave me. Irish dancing inspired such a love of Irish culture in me, I plan to study abroad there next year. And while I am there, St. Patrick's Day will just so happen to occur.

I cannot count on many things in life, but I can always count on St. Patrick's Day being my favorite holiday. And I can only imagine what it will be like next year.

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11 Great Books For People Who Don't Like Reading

If you don't like to read, this is the article for you.
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I’ve mentioned it before, and I’ll say it again, I am no reader. My twin sister, on the other hand, is a huge curly-q bookworm.

I always see her flying through novels for pure pleasure. I'll be honest, the sight of it makes me cringe. My body won't stay still after I get through 20 pages (unless I'm hooked). You can consider me the girl who doesn't finish anything (like Professor Calamitous in Jimmy Neutron...I even have the short stature down).

Maybe my dislike of reading stems from teachers force feeding us excruciatingly boring summer assignments.

1984? Straight up diarrhea

Fahrenheit? Vomit vomit vomit.

Animal Farm? Excruciatingly yuck.

The only thing I enjoyed about Animal Farm was laughing at how awful the movie was. On the other hand, give me a young adult novel, and you can count me in. I guess I have Vikas Turakhia to thank for introducing me to J.D Salinger and provoking my drive to become a better writer--after he made me cry and gave me a B- for a report regarding a book about Polenta. High-School was a time... amiright?

Anyway, even though I am not a big reader, there are still a few books that have stuck with me throughout the years. Here is a list of novels I highly recommend to those who associate reading with chores...this time it won't have to be.

1. Looking for Alaska

"Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words–and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.” Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps." -JohnGreenBooks.com

2. Eleanor and Park

"Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try." -Goodreads.com

3. City of Thieves

Written by the writer and producer of Game of Thrones... enough said. Another book that I was forced to read thanks to Vikas Turakhia and one I will never put down.

4. Paper Towns

"Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life–dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge–he follows. After their all-nighter ends and new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues–and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew." -Johngreenbooks.com

5. Franny and Zooey

"FRANNY came out in The New Yorker in 1955 and was swiftly followed, in 1957 by ZOOEY. Both stories are early, critical entries in a narrative series I'm doing about a family of settlers in twentieth-century New York, the Glasses. It is a long-term project, patently an ambiguous one, and there is a real-enough danger, I suppose that sooner or later I'll bog down, perhaps disappear entirely, in my own methods, locations, and mannerisms. On the whole, though, I'm very hopeful. I love working on these Glass stories, I've been waiting for them most of my life, and I think I have fairly decent, monomaniacal plans to finish them with due care and all-available skill." -Salinger

6. The Catcher in the Rye

"The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days.

The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it.

There are many voices in this novel: children's voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden's voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain too, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.

J.D. Salinger's classic novel of teenage angst and rebellion was first published in 1951. The novel was included on Time's 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923. It was named by Modern Library and its readers as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. It has been frequently challenged in the court for its liberal use of profanity and portrayal of sexuality and in the 1950's and 60's it was the novel that every teenage boy wants to read." -Goodreads.com

7. The Westing Games

"A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing's will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger - and a possible murderer - to inherit his vast fortune, one thing's for sure: Sam Westing may be dead... but that won't stop him from playing one last game!" -Goodreads.com

8. Milk and Honey

"milk and honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. It is about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose, deals with a different pain, heals a different heartache. milk and honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look. " -Goodreads.com

9. Room

"To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world....

Told in the inventive, funny, and poignant voice of Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience - and a powerful story of a mother and son whose love lets them survive the impossible.

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another." -Goodreads.com







10. Replica

"Two Girls, Two Stories, One Book"- Goodreads.com

11. Mother, Can You Not?

"In Mother, Can You NOT?, Kate Siegel pays tribute to the woman whose helicopter parenting may make your mom look like Mother Teresa. From embarrassing moments (like her mother’s surprise early morning visit, catching Kate in bed with her crush) to outrageous stories (such as the time she moved cross country to be near Kate’s college) to hilarious mantras (“NO STD TEST, YOU WON’T BE GETTING SEXED!”), Mother, Can you NOT? lovingly lampoons the lengths to which our mothers will go to better our lives (even if it feels like they’re ruining them in the process)." -kateesiegel.com
Cover Image Credit: 123RF

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5 Reasons St. Patrick's Day Is The Best Holiday

I promise it's not just because it's my birthday.

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The best holiday debate is a hard one. Do you pick the holidays that are family-centered? The ones with the best food? The ones where you get gifts? Every single holiday is unique. So how do you compare them all in the first place? Well, fear no more because the answer is here. St. Patrick's Day is the holiday that reigns over the rest, and here are five reasons why.

1. The Origin Story

St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, actually started out as a slave in Ireland. While there, he converted to Christianity and when he returned to Ireland years later he started to spread the religion. There's also a theory that he made the shamrock popular by using it to teach the Irish about the Christian Holy Trinity. There's also a rumor that he banished all the snakes out of Ireland, but there weren't any snakes to begin with. The holiday began as a celebration of Christianity coming to Ireland and has slowly morphed into a celebration of Irish culture. So there's a bit more to the holiday than drinking and wearing green.

2. The Symbol

We have the shamrock, which St. Patrick used to explain the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Shamrocks are also seen as symbols of faith, hope, and love. Four leaf clovers are basically shamrocks but they add in luck with their fourth leaf.

3. The Color

Personally I've never seen someone look bad in green.

4. The Festivities

I couldn't even stay out late after turning 21 at midnight because all of the bars were closing early to prepare to St. Patrick's Day. It really is an all day affair. Cities and bars have their own celebrations. There are parades. The Chicago River is dyed green. It's a whole thing.

5. The Atmosphere

You don't have to stress out about buying gifts. You don't have to worry about your entire family being stuffed in one house. The only clothing requirement is that it's green. There's an entire list of why this holiday is the best - but overall the atmosphere of people just enjoying themselves and having a good time finishes it off.

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