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March 14, 2009

St. Patrick's Day is Tuesday, March 17th

I moved to Pittsburgh in 1985, and I know that by community standards I still haven't lived here long enough to qualify as being "from here". I am very pleased to live here but and yet there are still a few things I do not understand. The fundamental mystery for me is the Pittsburgh habit of rescheduling holidays.

For instance, in Pittsburgh the St. Patrick's Day parade was on Saturday March 14th, which is sometimes considering Pi Day (3.14) but which is never considered St. Patrick's Day. For most of the universe St. Patrick's day is March 17th, and that's when the non-Burgh-verse celebrates it.

The old joke goes, Does Canada have a Fourth of July?
Punchline: Sure, right between the Third and the Fifth.

In Pittsburgh the joke is, When is the Fourth of July?
Punchline: Ambridge is July2nd, Aliquippa is July5th, Moon is July 6th, etc.

Since we have 923 different local governments (county, city, borough, township, ward, school district, scout troop), we're all over the calendar. My first year here I missed the fourth of July. I called the municipal building on July 3rd to ask if there were any fireworks scheduled, and they told me "you missed the 4th, we had it two days ago".

Halloween is the same thing, celebrated on different days in different towns. I guess I should be grateful there's no black-and-gold shamrocks.

This parochial arrogance - the borough/ township will tell you when it's St. Patrick's Day, mister, never you mind - really amuses "outlanders" (ie, people from Ohio and DC). My sister calls every year to ask when Pittsburgh is celebrating Christmas; she gets a kick out of it.

I still don't get this. Maybe when I've lived here for 30 years it'll dawn on me. Maybe my children (who are from here) will understand it. I hope not.

Bonus Link: More about the Pittsburgh Shamrocks, the 1935-36 pro hockey team.


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