Tag Archives: St. Patrick

Enough with St. Patrick’s Day

I don’t know, the more I think about St. Patrick, the more I think he’s undeserving of such a big holiday. It’s like Christopher Columbus, only worse, OK maybe not worse, but just as bad. It’s like, this guy comes over from Europe to Ireland, and what does he do? He starts bossing everybody around, telling them to abandon their religious beliefs. Wouldn’t you be a little pissed off if some guy fell off a ship and told you to start changing your life around?


And he destroyed the local ecosystem. The snakes, the frogs, he decimated an entire population of native animals. Who knows what kind of damage that did to Ireland’s environment? History talks about it like it’s a good thing, but does anybody ever think about why the Irish people got so dependent on the potato? Maybe, after St. Patrick had his way terraforming the entire island, nothing else could grow. And so it was just potatoes. And then there was a famine. I’m not saying he caused the Potato Famine on purpose, but whatever, maybe if the snakes were still alive, they would’ve had something to do with the whole circle of life and food chain or whatever.

I’m just saying, it’s like I go to get a bagel on St. Patrick’s day, just a regular breakfast on what should be a regular workday, but no, the bagel store decides it’s got to put green food dye in all of the dough. I don’t want to eat a green bagel. Nor do I want to drink a green beer. Shamrock Shakes are OK, but only because mint is green, and so the color fits the flavor profile. But come on, this guy’s been dead for hundreds of years now, why does he still have such a huge influence on the color of our food on March 17th?

And enough with the green clothing. If I don’t wear green on Monday, everybody’s going to think I’m some sort of a party pooper. But green’s just not a very flattering color. For me, anyway. Maybe you look great in green. I doubt it, but I’m not a fashionista, so I can’t really comment on what’s trending with popular styles. All I know is, I see someone wearing a green turtleneck sweater, I automatically assume, OK, JCPenny is going out of business and they’ve got a ton of merchandise, everything must go, right now.

And what about leprechauns? Let’s go back to the whole religion thing for a second. And I’m not trying to make an argument for or against any particular faith, but I’d like to point out some inconsistencies. First, Patrick tells the Druids that their pagan practices aren’t OK. Fine. Yet for some reason we’re supposed to turn a blind eye toward magical little Irish dwarves? And what about all of that alleged Irish good luck? It all reeks of paganism right there. Hey Ireland, either deny that it exists once and for all, or embrace some of the pre-Patrick old ways.

Finally, in focusing all of our attention on St. Patrick, we’re ignoring the other Saints that celebrate their feast day on March 17th. I’m looking at you, St. Alexius of Rome. Here’s a classic riches to rags story, which, after some very brief research on Wikipedia, I’m also seeing that he one time spent seventeen days in a cubbyhole teaching scripture to little kids … OK, and then when he died, he had writing appear all over his body …

OK, I’m not claiming to understand what’s going on here, but I’ll never be able to. Not with one hundred percent of the attention given to St. Patrick. It’s all a little too much, and I’m confident that if he were around today, Patrick would be the first to demand that we stop celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Because if he didn’t, well, it would just be totally weird, a person reveling in way too much of the spotlight.

I say we just cool it. I’m wearing blue today. Maybe red. No, definitely blue. And I’m going to get a Shamrock Shake, but only because they’re delicious, and McDonald’s stops selling them after today. But I’m not going to say Shamrock Shake, I’m going to ask for, “one of those green minty shakes you guys always make this time of year.” And if the cashier says, “The Shamrock Shake?” I’ll just be like, “Whatever, I don’t care what you call it, just hand it over.”

St. Patrick’s Day: The Real Story

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everybody. It’s such a great holiday. Everything’s green. Just like Ireland. Just like St. Patrick. Legend has it that good old St. Pat had sort of a green tint to him, to his complexion. Those interested in hagiography know that Patrick had to board a ship to travel to Ireland. It was there that he developed a really bad case of seasickness. “Looking a little green around the gills, aren’t ye Patty?” the sailors used to tease and taunt him.

And it was true. From the minute St. Patrick boarded his first vessel, he couldn’t stop feeling the rocking, the back and forth, the never-ending motion of the boat crashing against the waves. When he wasn’t throwing up, he was in between throw-ups. It was pretty constant. He was originally supposed to be a slave on one of these ships, but after a while the captain realized that Patrick was all but useless on a boat.

They tried beating it out of him, they tried withholding food and water. But the Lord works in mysterious ways, and so Patrick kept puking and puking. Finally the crew conceded that he was probably a lost cause, and so they made him walk the plank.

Even when he was thrown overboard, alone, adrift in the sea, he couldn’t stop throwing up. But it was all for the best, because his wrenching and heaving served to propel him forward through the water, until he miraculously landed on the Emerald Isle.

Once on dry land, his nausea diminished somewhat, but he was never really able to get his sea legs to start acting like land legs again. For the rest of his life, wherever he went, no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t stop feeling those waves, the incessant rocking back and forth. He’d lay awake in his bed for hours, unable to stop the maddening sensation of being stuck on that boat, staring at the ceiling and trying to will his brain to adjust to his new surroundings.

But it was all for naught, and he had to contend to living a life slightly off balance. Interestingly, this is how the Irish people came up with one of their most famous dances, the jig. After Patrick did all of his miracles, expelled the frogs and the snakes, defeated the druid priests in miracle competitions, he became very famous. Everybody in Ireland knew of him and talked about his exploits. He was beloved enough that when people saw him walking all wobbly because of the whole permanent seasickness thing, they emulated him. They all started walking like they were stuck on a boat. And so generation after generation, this became a way to commemorate Patrick, it became embedded in the Irish culture, in the jig.

Unfortunately, to an outsider’s perspective, this whole walking around like you can’t get a hold of anything, it looks an awful lot like inebriation. And so the Irish developed an unwarranted reputation for being a group of heavy drinkers. Still, St. Patrick’s life was noble and honorable enough to overcome this slanderous legacy, kind of.

Today Irish and non-Irish around the world celebrate the life and deeds of St. Patrick, Ireland’s most famous non-Irish person. Some of his more unsophisticated followers use his feast day as an excuse to head to the city for the day, to get really drunk. They drink lots of beer and have to go to the bathroom really badly, but everybody else is doing the same exact thing. So they head down to the alley to see if they can’t get away with peeing outside, but the cops, they’re everywhere, they’re just counting on busting kids from the suburbs for public urination. And that’s a pretty hefty fine.

True devotees commemorate St. Patrick by, yes, by drinking, but they use green food coloring to make their beer look green. And it’s not just beer. You can get green bagels on St. Patrick’s Day. You can get a Shamrock Shake at McDonald’s. There’s lots of green stuff available, just like in Ireland.

So get out there and celebrate. Do a little jig. If you see a frog or a snake, kill it. And make sure that everything you eat and drink is green. Happy St. Patrick’s Day everybody!