Well, it’s St. Patrick’s Day, and if you’re observing it properly in Chicagoland, you better be toasting with a foamy green beer and a plate of corned beef.
I myself am observing it by eating pad Thai.
As with all secular observances of religious holidays, the celebration has almost no connection to the original purpose.
Beyond his first name, what do most people know of this patron saint?
Well, for one thing, he wasn’t Irish. He was born in England and brought by pirates to Ireland as a slave. He eventually escaped, found God and returned to Ireland as a missionary. We wear green and look up recipes on how to make soda bread on the anniversary of his death on March 17.
Most of us wouldn’t know even his first name without the green beer. Kwanzaa would be a more popular cultural holiday if we dyed the Chicago River the color of African fruit party punch, and we might all observe Chinese New Year if the Chinese Zodiac included corned beef instead of Rat and Monkey. All we Americans need to twist the meaning of a solemn holiday is liquor, a three-day weekend and fireworks (see: Independence Day).
When we should be remembering his courage and benevolence, we’re honoring St. Patrick by wearing dorky four-leaf-clover hats and complaining about how gassy cabbage makes us.
How dare I speak ill of a holiday so important to the Irish? I’m 12.5% Scotch-Irish, which I believe makes me 12.5% Irish and 0% Catholic. If I had that much Native American blood, I’d be living well on casino profits. If you’re observing a holy day of obligation in honor of St. Patrick, please forgive me.
We’re such lemmings. The Big Marketing Machine latches onto anything green (or lucky) to sell stuff in March because they can’t pin down Easter’s moving date. Because newspapers/magazines/bars/TV newscasters need a hook to get our attention, we start celebrating a holiday that means nothing to us because it’s an excuse to get drunk.
If you like corned beef, you can eat it any day of the year. And if you like green beer, you should examine your excuses for imbibing at 10 a.m. You may have a problem that can only be solved with a 12-step program.
As for me, I’m wearing sweatpants (gray), drinking the national beverage of Brazil (coffee) and eating leftovers (rhubarb crisp) today. Happy Irrelevant Secular Holiday to you, too.
[Note to St. Patrick: Thank you for inspiring today’s blog post. Rest your eternal soul.]