Last month, throngs of nay-sayers poo-poohed an inoffensive holiday dedicated to love and lust. This month, they'll embrace a holiday dedicated to wearing green and barfing up Guinness because their pansy stomachs can't take it. In short, people are stupid.
So what's up with this holiday? Well, as you may have guessed (and if you didn't, you've got problems), it's an Irish one, and it's in honour of Saint Patrick. That's right, Saint Patrick. Don't forget the Saint part. In Ireland, it actually means something. You may be surprised to learn that today is not simply a day to 'get your drink on'. In Ireland, where they know what they're doing, today is a religious holiday. They stay home from work and go to mass where they pray for missionaries around the world. It's a day for spiritual renewal. In North America, we piss on people's religious holidays like there is no tomorrow. Christmas is offered up to the gods of consumerism. Easter is a tribute to oddly-shaped chocolates. And now we've taken St. Patrick's day, highjacked it from the Irish, only to put on curly green wigs and shout drunken misgivings at parade floats. No, it's not respectful. We don't do respectful around these parts.
Saint Patrick wasn't always a saint. In fact, he wasn't always Irish either. As a young boy, he lived on the British Isles and was kidnapped from there and brought to Ireland where he was forced into slavery for 6 years. Then, he heard the voice of God telling him to escape, and he did. When Patrick came back to Ireland, he brought christianity with him. He went from town to town, preaching the word of God and using the shamrock as a metaphor: its three leaves represent the church's holy trinity (The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit). An Irishman who is wearing shamrocks is signifying his closeness to God. I fear that on this side of the water it signifies something closer to "Wee, look at me, I am sooo drunk!"
Then, Saint Patrick drove all the snakes from Ireland (although, it is improbable that Ireland ever had any snakes, so snakes are probably a metaphor for pagans). So in a way, Saint Patrick was to Ireland what Billy Graham aspires to be to Australia. Who knows, maybe in a few years Australia will be celebrating St Billy's day, and we'll all get pissed in his memory. Or not.
It is believed that Saint Patrick died on March 17th. His people were devastated. They have taken the day to mourn his death. We have taken the day to torture our livers.
As you know, I'm all for almost any excuse to throw a party and drink to my heart's content. But, I'm not Irish. Nor am I catholic. I don't plan on mourning anyone's death today, but by this evening, I might be enticed to celebrate his life. Or life in general. Green is not just the colour of Ireland, but the colour of spring and new growth. In the spirit of "A Festivus for the Rest of Us", I am accepting suggestions for renaming this holiday more appropriately. 'Happy Drink Day' perhaps, or 'Snake Day' (since I most likely would have been one of the snakes St Pat got rid of).
Meanwhile, the well-intentioned and misintentioned are partying on. Green dye #38 is being consumed in mass quantities, and somewhere in a small room, its inventor is hoping like hell it'll prove to be non-toxic. Irish stews are bubbling on stoves. Blarney stone substitutes are being smooched like crazy. Bar patrons are trying to convince each other that their slurred gibberish is really Gaelic. And the Chicago River is reverting back to its natural colour after its green showing at the parade.
(For 40 years, city officials have dyed the river green. No one else can replicate it. Officials won't divulge the secret, saying it would be like a leprechaun revealing where he buried the pot of gold. The river is dyed the morning of the parade, and is back to its normal colour by the evening's close.)
What kind of shenanigans are you up to tonight? Do tell. And, if you're up for any kind of shindig, then you might want to pop on over to Sweet Jay's, where a great recipe for an Irish brownie topping is currently posted. A word to the wise: if you're one of those pansies who can't hold his Guinness, pass this one up. It'll knock you on your ass.