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Covid-19 swept the globe creating a pandemic that changed our lives. We grew accustomed to the daily tally of deaths, thousands of men, women, children, doctor’s, nurses and elderly. We isolated, remained indoors, worked from home, school children on lockdown from shuttered schools. We adjusted to upheaval of daily living, wore masks and feared exposure to a deadly virus.
In the weeks and months that followed, Ireland provided colossal entertainment highlighting abundant talent in the Emerald Isle. Actors produced short hilarious video segments featuring the new life from home with children, parents, dogs and cats. I watched over and over a five year old Irish girl berating her mother for preventing her to go to the pub. She was five. Her friend was six and she went. Couldn’t she go for just one night? Mother in background smothering laughter held her ground, explaining her friend was allowed to enter the pub for her father’s birthday. The young one, a spit fire fought on finally declaring she would not accompany her mother to the weekly bingo game. She ended the short piece gushing: “For God’s sake I’m five, I should be allowed to visit the pub!”
Women meanwhile were dealing with their own difficulties. House bound, many working from home, ditched their bras.Irish headlines read: “A Bra Furloughed by Irish women.” The evidence spilled forth and the anti-bra movement traveled the land. Women divulged they felt uncomfortable with the confinement and going without spelled freedom. Bra folklore surged into the mainstream. The backlash was swift. The garment was hailed as supporting not just breasts, but also the back. To the latter claim women shouted it isn’t so. Irish females have been labelled, bold, brazen, brash and confrontational. Women shunned the criticism seeing it as the chalice of all that is fine and right in womanhood. As one unidentified young woman well endowed physically told a reporter, “If they don’t like that we jiggle when we walk, don’t look! Brings to mind a comment made by screen tycoon Steve Martin. Walking on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, he said if you spot a woman whose breasts are moving, they’re REAL!
Once upon a time, as a pre-pubescent Irish lass, launched at an early age into Irish step-dancing, mandatory for boys and girls to master jigs, reels and hornpipes. As skills developed we entered competitions in surrounding country towns earning and collecting medals for our performance, usually strutting our stuff on the back of a lorry. Medals pinned to the shoulder of dancing costumes distinctively embroidered in colors and designs reflected in the Book of Kells. Galloping out a hornpipe, the medals jiggled as did spouting breasts. Self conscious, uncomfortable, embarrassing, Irish dancing at the time required a stiff upper body. Pubescent bodies did not comply. To bring up the issue at home was not an option. No one noticed I was sprouting. I feigned colds, ankle pain, sore toes, toothache, and shoulder pain to avoid the summer’s dance ritual. I never returned to dancing again until it was revolutionized by Riverdance followed by Lord of the Dance. Sat in the front row at the first concert in Chicago, marveling how dancers moved their bodies arms swinging, hips moving seductively, costumes fit for Hollywood, while the footwork remained the same. Purchased the music, practiced the steps perfectly at home, mature flesh confined by an expensive lace brassiere, a French product. Invited guests for cocktails and an Irish step dancing show. I danced to music tapping the rapid foot work of a perfect hornpipe and broke my ankle!
Meanwhile, another month surges toward the end of a tragic pandemic year, likely to continue into the next when an effective vaccine is available banishing the havoc wrought by Covid-19.
The economy dragged, although Halloween presented early in big box stores and speciality shop. Fields of harvested pumpkins displayed on front steps of homes, faces carved, transforming pumpkins into jack-o’lanterns, a tradition that actually began in Ireland. In a move as fast as flash forest fires in California, Halloween gear was pushed off the shelves by an abundance of Christmas inventory, so early it’s offensive, raising consumer tension layered on top of covid fatigue. The question arises, is it wise for children to dress on the last day of October, seeking gifts of confections, trick-or-treating around neighborhood homes? Is it safe this particular pandemic year?
The Irish celebrated Halloween in my youth as a light hearted day, a far cry from its ancient origins when people believed it was a night when the dead literally returned to the land of the living. Bonfires now burn all over Ireland on Halloween, and in my childhood we stayed home, bobbed for apples contained in a basin of water. Apple tarts concealed a ring, whoever discovered it was tagged with the prospect of an early marriage! There was also the traditional comfort of a fresh baked loaf of barn brack sliced served with Irish butter and hot tea.
It’s been estimated that Americans last year spent $377 million on halloween costumes for adults, children, even pets. Most countries participate in halloween, although Mexico stands out as families celebrate the Day of The Dead from October 31st to November 2nd. The tradition is tied to the Christian holidays of All Saint’s Day and all Soul’s Day. It’s a spiritual meaningful three day festival. Families erect altars to welcome back the souls of departed loved ones, believed to return to earth for a brief period. Families scatter flower petals on pathways to front doors leaving food to nurture returning souls. In Ireland, All Saint’s Day is a holy day of Obligation. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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