Every March 17 around the world, the proud descendants of famine rattled, typhoid infected immigrants, who escaped the political and religious oppression of their homeland, celebrate the traditions that define their culture. Today, that entails sporting “Kiss Me. I’m Irish” shirts, artificial neon green, and beer stink. Happy Feast Day!
St. Paddy’s day (not to be confused with the celebration of holy hamburger meat, St. Patty’s day, which a great many Americans honor on the same day) is the proper nickname for the feast day of Ireland’s St. Padraig. This is the only day of the year where everyone gets to be a little Irish so long as they’re full of Guinness or green beer. March 17, then, is special in its own right. In this day and age, not even Halloween allows for the wholesale appropriation of another culture without fear of ridicule for politically incorrect behavior.
Why then, you might ask, can we do so on St. Paddy’s day? Likely, because most Irish Americans are in on the botched appropriation too! Honestly, how many of us know the story of St. Patrick (who was not actually Irish-born)? How many of us know that corned beef is almost entirely a result of the melding of Jewish and Irish cultures in America? How many know Ireland has its own language (neither English nor Gaelic), or that eating green is a reminder of the famine starved farmers who were forced to eat grass to survive?
Instead, everyone is gleefully bedecked in bright green. Some claim that their granddaddy was in the IRA or was second cousins with Whitey Bulger. Colleges compete for “who does St. Patrick’s day best” (honestly, not Boston College). Everyone gulps colored beer, and, as the day goes on, many wish each other a happy holy hamburger meat day.
Until next year…Sláinte, fellow posers.