Just Saying No To St Patrick’s Day

Nast-Irish-TheDayWeCelebrate-4.06.1867

Just like St Patrick’s day at my alma mater. #iupattysday

Somewhere just south of a dozen people have asked me about my plans for St, Patrick’s Day–virtually all of whom are aware that I’m an American of English-German descent who, anti_st_patricks_day_buttons_pins_badges-ra1111173014e481f8c5e337f8b47fb1a_x7j12_8byvr_324while raised as a protestant whose family strongly believed that “Catholics are a lot like normal Christians except for the idolatry and Mary-worship,” came out years ago as a full-bore eye-rolling atheist reason-monkey.

And they ask me if I celebrate St. Patrick’s day?  I mean, come on, man.  Get a clue.

But what do we know about St. Patrick really?  For starters, his name wasn’t Patrick–he was born “Maewyn Succat,” which is a pretty cool name but must have been a tremendously difficult in high school.  He would go on to change his name to Patrick, though I’m not sure why?  I’m thinking maybe he shot a man in Reno. Just to watch him die.

Guinness.  I’m not afraid to say it, but the emperor has no clothes–and Guinness, if you take away the mystique, is a pretty foul brew compared to a wide variety of regionally brewed domestic craft beers.  It’s like the Budweiser of stouts.

funny_anti_st_patricks_day_button-r1297c5da82584070a600d41ed39f60d5_x7j3i_8byvr_324In Ireland, St Patrick’s day was historically a minor religious holiday marked by Catholics attending mass then getting together for a family meal, like pilgrims without all that pesky genocide.  In fact, in Ireland the bars used to close for the day.  It took Americans to develop the new traditions of getting stinky-ass drunk, smashing things, fighting strangers and ultimately falling down in the gutter and passing out in a puddle of one’s own piss and vomit.  Not surprisingly, the traditions developed in Boston.  Why? Because Irish clergy would give their flocks a special dispensation from all those lenten sacrifices.

Always eager to disprove long-held cultural biases, the Irish immigrants wasted no time in plunging wildly into a morass of booze-addled sin and debauchery.  As they did a few weeks earlier, in preparation for Lent.  But that’s why I tell people, if I ever start running with the Jesus Gang again, I’m pledging with the Romans.  Methodists have no holidays that encouraging drinking and slam-dancing to the Pogues or the Dropkick Murphys.  None.

Corned beef and cabbage, the official meal of St. Patricks Day and Ireland—err, no.  Irish immigrants in America appropriated corned beef from Jewish-Americans and added cabbage (which is the national tree of Ireland, of course).  In Ireland, they would have had bacon or lamb.

proud_non_irish_proud_non_irish_st_patricks_day_badge-r9d394281d51e4e9db3385c8f36c26bf0_x7j3i_8byvr_324St. Patrick wasn’t even Irish.  He was born in England to Roman parents.  Remember that the next time your teabagging Irish brother-in-law is being an asshat at Christmas dinner: St Patrick was ITALIAN!

If you lived in my town, you’d be down on St Patricks Day just as much as I am.

On the other hand, a bar in town is selling a St Patrick’s Day drink special called a “Car Bomb” which is darkly hilarious, if you’re old enough–or read enough–to get the irony.  Sadly, most of target demographic isn’t–and doesn’t–and almost certainly won’t.

The best part of St. Patricks Day, of course, is the “Erin Go Bra-less” pun.  That one makes for some hellaciously appealing Facebook memes.

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About JunkChuck

Native, Militant Westsylvanian (the first last best place), laborer, gardener, and literary hobbyist (if by literary you mean "hack"). I've had a bunch of different blogs, probably four, due to a recurring compulsion to start over. This incarnation owes to a desire to dredge up the best entries of the worst little book of hand-scrawled poems I could ever dream of writing, salvageable excerpts from fiction both in progress and long-abandoned. and a smattering of whatever the hell seems to fit at any particular moment. At first blush, I was here just to focus on old, terrible verse, but I reserve the right to include...anything. Maybe everything, certainly my love of pulp novels growing garlic, the Pittsburgh Steelers and howling at the moon--both figuratively and, on rare occasions, literally.
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8 Responses to Just Saying No To St Patrick’s Day

  1. M T McGuire says:

    I was amused by the “I celebrate my own nation” badge. I am always intrigued the way many American tourists I’ve met have billed themselves as being from somewhere else. I remember one particular incident when I was about 12. A cheery fellow came up to me in Brighton and asked the way to something or other. He had a very strong American accent so I asked if he was on holiday and he said yes, he was over on holiday – except he called it vacation which was brilliant – from the states where he lived. He then completely floored me by saying,

    “But I’m not American, of course, I’m Irish.”
    and I said,
    “Wow! You’ve really lost your accent. What part of Ireland are you from?”
    “Oh I wasn’t born in Ireland. My family comes from x….” (I forget where) “150 years ago.”
    “So.. doesn’t that mean you’re American?”
    “No, I’m Irish through and through.”
    “Oh…right”

    I nodded politely and shook his hand but I remember thinking that my lot came over with the Normans and the Normans, originally, were Vikings who settled in France, so by his reckoning I guess I’m Swedish… or Norwegian…

    To outsiders, it’s a endearingly bizarre and interesting way of looking at the world.

    I absolutely agree with you about Guinness too. Vile stuff. Can’t understand the hype at all.

    Cheers

    MTM

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  2. merrildsmith says:

    St. Patrick’s Day has always seemed like an excuse for people to drink too much and eat weird green food–at least here in the U.S. It’s not a holiday I celebrate. I’m not Irish or Catholic.
    It’s too bad I didn’t think of the “Erin Go Bra-less” pun for my Cultural Encyclopedia of the Breast.

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  3. You’re right, I don’t get the ‘car bomb’ name for the drink 😦

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  4. Bess Jones says:

    No, I remember growing up with those threats when I was a kid living in London. Northern Irish people scared the bejesus out of me. They were hard as nails.

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    • JunkChuck says:

      I had a friend from New Jersey, a bubbly artistic jewish girl, who fell for an Irish guy back in, oh, 1987 or so–we were like 20–and next thing you know she dropped out of school, took off to Belfast, and was supposed to marry the guy. Never heard from her again. I remember being shocked–happy she found love, but Belfast? In my limited world view at the time, I’d almost have rather gone to Beirut. The two places seemed equivalent.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bess Jones says:

        Yep, I agree. I was in Belfast back in 2001 and all, for once seemed peaceful and dare I say ‘normal’, but it wasn’t much long after that that it all went to shit again. I suppose there is something to be said for generational cycles. History and its gastroenteritis.

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  5. Great summary. I talked about many of these same misconceptions on my food blog two years ago. Silly Americans, we are!

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