Love in Bloom: June 16

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Bloomsday? – Something about flowers?  Plants?  Ecology?  Cultivation?

Well, the last starts getting close. Cultivation—or, being cultivated–in the best sense:  knowledgeable and appreciative of human culture in one of its highest forms:  literary art.

Bloomsday, June 16 each year, is a commemoration and celebration of the journey in and around Dublin of Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of James Joyce’s Ulysses, often considered the greatest novel of the twentieth century. 

The practice was formally initiated in 1954, on the 50th anniversary of the events depicted in the novel, when a day-long pilgrimage was organized by artist and critic John Ryan along with novelist Flann O’Brien, who were joined by others who set out to pay homage to the Joyce masterpiece by faithfully following Leopold’s route that day.

The annual event has since “bloomed” and evolved into a potpourri of cultural activities including readings, dramatizations, pub crawls, and various other happenings (often featuring the participants in appropriate Edwardian garb) not only in Ireland, but in many other nations around the globe. Some celebrants dress as characters in the novel, and all partake in appropriate food and drink as they attempt to immortalize the singularly mundane and ordinary Leopold, a man of many appetites but a stranger to fame and fortune—or even much attention or respect.

How utterly appropriate, of course, is the replication of the series of peregrinations and encounters of the unexceptional Mr. Bloom, when in the novel itself he is mirroring, on a much debased, if more intimate scale, the adventures of Homer’s grand Ulysses in The Odyssey. Turnabout is indeed fair play. The sincerest form of flattery is imitation

The custom is now so ingrained in Dublin life that it rivals their most sacred of holidays in earnestness and gravity, despite the gaiety and frivolity attendant.

Therefore what? Therefore, let not another June 16th pass without your corned beef and cabbage, your Irish stew with a generous helping of potatoes, your Guinness Irish stout, and your shot or two of good Irish whiskey. Put on those kilts and tunics and get ready to sing and dance. 

     And I wish for you the following:
     May your blessings outnumber
     The shamrocks that grow,
     And may trouble avoid you
     Wherever you go.

9 Comments
  1. Jack Eason says

    Interesting article once again Andrew. No if only people would rejoice in Eric Blair aka George Orwell in the same way.

  2. Andrew J. Sacks says

    Jack, thank you! And you have a fine point, as always.

  3. Bartemans says

    Compliments on another great article, Andy.

  4. Andrew J. Sacks says

    Bart, greatly appreciated. Thank you so much.

  5. Kristin Fouquet says

    Great article, Andrew. Here in New Orleans, we are doing our part by having a 12-hour reading of Ulysses at The Irish House.

    Happy Bloomsday!

  6. Andrew J. Sacks says

    Kristin, you are the Queen of Appropriateness.

    Thank you and–Craic!

    Drink hearty.

  7. Gabriel Constans says

    I didn’t know about this Andrew. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Andrew J. Sacks says

    Thank you for reading and replying favorably, Gabriel.

  9. james sale says

    Andrew – often considered the greatest novel of the C20th, the oft repeated urban myth in fact that gains by the repetition, but alas, NOT. Academics read it, love it – it gives them plenty to analyse; but people reading it? No, they prefer Tolkien!

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