11. It’s St. Patrick’s Day!
   

four-leaf clover

four-leaf clover

Vocabulary:

clover: a type of grass

famine: food shortage that leads to starvation

reckon: manage

Why are so many people wearing green today? The reason is because it’s St. Patrick’s Day. On this day, the rich cultural heritage of Ireland is celebrated. In the United States, millions of people can trace their ancestry to that country. Irish people wear green on St. Patrick’s Day to show that they have some sort of connection to Ireland.

Many people go to parades on St. Patrick’s Day. Politicians, business people, and celebrities appear in the parade. In big cities like Chicago, New York, and Boston there are a lot of Irish people, so the day feels like a holiday. Some people take the day off in order to attend the parades. As an ethnic group, the Irish want to show how far they’ve come in American society and celebrate their contributions.

It’s worth noting that the Irish were once highly discriminated against when they first stated immigrating to the United States. Starting in the 1840s, Irish people came to the United States in very large numbers to escape a widespread famine. But when they arrived, they found that some of the people here didn’t like them. Americans didn’t like the fact that the Irish were Catholic, or that their customs were different from traditional American customs.

In contrast to people of British, French, or German descent, Irish people stood out in a crowd because of their red hair and pale skin. Names such as O’Donnel and McCarthy revealed their heritage. It was very hard to hide the fact that they were Irish. Irish immigrants could only find the most difficult, dirty jobs that Americans didn’t want to do.

Does all of this sound familiar to you?

Nowadays, Irish people proudly proclaim who they are and where they came from. The days of discrimination against them are long over, but it’s important to remember what happened to them in the past. As other new groups of immigrants arrive on our shores from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, we find that the ugliness of prejudice and hate is still a problem to reckon with in the United States.

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Now you try it. Read the paragraphs above. If you have a microphone, you can record your voice and compare it to my voice.

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