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, while 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.
In 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.
St. 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!
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.