It wasn’t until I was in college, the second time, that I made my first real Irish friend. I mean “Irish” Irish not some Irish mutt, which is made up when somewhere along the family tree there is a small branch or neighboring shrub associated to the tree. This equates to the individual being 1/28 Irish or something like that. This friend, let’s call her Jen, because, well, that’s her name, even though she always insisted that everyone call her Irish. So Jen and I use to always get in discussions about being Irish. Her stand was that because she was Irish she was better than everyone else. I took up the opposing view telling her, “Naut Uh!”
To which she would retort, “Does too.”
And then I would follow that up with the always reliable and irrefutable, “Does not.”
We would keep this up for a good three to five minutes, and then would be asked to pipe down by our teacher, threatening that they would take away our recess if we kept it up.
My perspective at the time is that national pride meant elitism. I thought, at the time, when you start expressing pride you begin segregating others. The goal of unity and people coming together would always go away when people would start advertising that people not of their heritage were lesser people. I use to blame the heritage for this segregation. Turns out it has nothing to do with heritage, but more to do with whether you’re a complete and total prat or not. I mean jerks are everywhere. It has nothing to do with where they come from. It’s a personality type that tries to make others feel inferior. It has nothing to do with where you or your ancestors are from. Usually, I think it’s just a matter of how you were raised.
I’ve been doing a little study on St. Patrick’s Day, turns out it started out as a Catholic holiday. Initially it was a one-day break during Lent, which included consuming a fair amount of alcohol. It wasn’t until the 1600s that the Catholic Church put it on their calendar to be an officially observed holy day.
Something I didn’t know is that on two separate occasions the Catholic Church changed the day of St. Patrick’s Day. Once in 1940, they moved it to April 3rd, to avoid having it with Palm Sunday, and again in 2008, when they moved it to March 15th because the 17th was during Holy Week. For the record though, the rest of the world still celebrated it on the 17th.
One of the things I get a kick out of in regards to St. Patrick’s Day is that it is much more inclusive than once thought. Sure, initially it was for St. Patrick the patron saint of Ireland, but it’s evolved a bit over the 1000 years it’s been around. It’s true, the Irish have observed March 17th as a religious holiday for over 1000 years now… at least that’s what the History Channel told me. Personally, I’m going to trust the History Channel on this one. But today, St. Patrick’s Day has become a sort of an “everyone gets to be Irish if they want to be” day. On March 17th no one cares if you are Irish or not. You can even claim to be an honorary Irish on the 17th and everyone is pretty much fine with it, as long as you are wearing green and/or have a green colored beverage in a pint sized glass.
It’s also amazing to me how many people I have met that are not Irish in any way, but can claim Irish rights and heritage simply by being born on March 17th. Surprisingly, I’ve never met anyone who disagrees with this practice either. It’s really the only day I can think of that offers participators a choice of nationality. The day has sort of taken on its very own mythology in that regard. Personally, I think it’s kind of groovy.
That being said, there is one more thing I need to share, which I really could not pass up. It’s about what happened at work today, which on a plus note did not take place in the lavatory. It is about today’s division wide potluck. On occasion the department I work in and its sibling department plan an occasional potluck for the month’s token holiday. Meaning yes, we had a potluck planned for St. Patrick’s Day.
I even made sure that my donation to the pot luck was the color green. The thing is, it was guacamole green because I had signed up to bring guacamole to the potluck… the potluck was a nacho and taco bar. Yes, my work had a taco bar to commemorate St. Patrick’s Day. Isn’t that kind of like celebrating Thanksgiving with sushi, or New Years with just water, or, I don’t know, maybe St. Patrick’s Day with tacos? Even though the gesture was appreciated, I think it sort of missed the point. But in the event of a free lunch I’ve learned that people don’t really care if the food and holiday match. What really matters is that it’s free.
To make up for it I think we’re having Tai food tonight for dinner… don’t worry I’ll get some green food coloring to make it legit. Hey, Angela is craving Tai food and when that happens, even on St. Patrick’s Day, my job is to enjoy dinner with my wife. I’m neither Catholic nor Irish so I pretty sure that karmically I’m still good.
So Happy Irish-if-you-want-to-be Day to you all. I hope it’s been grand. Cheers.
What are your thoughts?
Google Images, key words: St. Patrick’s Day, taco bar, jerk, History Channel, and good karma.
I’m maybe 1/4 Irish (a little fuzzy on a grandparent), plus, I have green-hazel eyes. But no celebration for me – spending the day writing a paper.
I could be mistaken, bit I think the driving-snakes-out-thingy refers symbolically to missionaries driving out the old celtic deities of nature and the earth.
Yeah. Wouldn’t be surprised. I mean we all know that most major religious holidays do have their roots in pagan festivals. To which I say, thanks pagans.
My job had green cookies and green colored icing topped cupcakes in the break room, along with various selections of sodas; Coke; Fanta; Sprite; Dr. Pepper; Orangeade; Minute Maid Lemonaide; A&W Rootbeer and other liquid posions. I had a cupcake and two cookies. I felt horrible about this shortly after.
In an attempt to console the guilt within me, I washed down a cup full of Orangeade and considered going back for another round. Then I came home, sat down at the computer and smirked the web long enough to realize it was Saint Patty’s Day.
Yes, the refreshments should have switched on a light somewhere inside this melon I call my head. No, It did not. Thank you for the reminder. My bad to the Irish on nixing their moment from my day. If anyone is interested, I have a lovely tale about mouth sores and “Kiss me I’m Irish” buttons. On a cynical high, Thank you for the cupcakes and cookies.
I like that you are numbering your confessions. Now is 145 just for this year or for your whole life. Because depending on which one it is you’re either doing good… or really good.
I want to say for the week, but that might imply total Halo and land me in a place of constant confession that may or may not cause a priest to blow his top…I am sure there is a shot to the catholic leaders there somewhere…
I might have implied just then that a Catholic priest diddles with twinkles and I am certain not all of them do, but, in my defense, I cannot pin them down long enough to know for sure because they are constantly on the move.
Hi Richard. Thanks for your St Paddy’s Day smirk. As you probably know I am Irish and I live in Ireland:) I suppose St Patrick’s Day did start out as a religious holiday here (and for many it still is) but my experience is that the holiday has another dimension. It’s also a celebration of culture, language, music and nationality( as you correctly noted). I don’t know how much you know about Irish history, (and I don’t think we should get stuck in the problems of the past) but there were periods when celebrating our particular culture was not always a freedom that we had here in Ireland. Thankfully Ireland has changed a great deal over the years and we are proud to celebrate our writers, musicians, scientists and philosophers and the contribution they have made to the world. It is wonderful to see St Patrick’s Day celebrations happening all over the world, in places where Irish men and women live today or where the descendants of Irish families still keep their Irishness alive. It really doesn’t matter if you are 100% or 0% Irish,all are welcome to join in the craic 🙂 In these dark days of economic crisis it’s great to have a day of global celebration we can all enjoy, so wear something green , smile and sing a song! :)…and if you know any Irish songs all the better!
I did listen to some U2, but I’m not sure that counts.
Hi Richard I am 1/4 Irish my grandfather’s family hale from the borders of Co.Down where St. Patrick is said to be buried and Co. Armagh my grandmother’s family come from the south a place called Waterford (this is my mothers side of the family) Ireland is a wonderful place were every one you meet feels like an old friend and they bend over backwards to help you. I live in England in the city of Liverpool were the are a lot of people who have ties to Ireland as many of the Irish moved there in the 19th and 20th century to find work although its not a proper holiday in England as it is in Ireland we do celebrate it here too usaly with some old Irish songs lots of Guinness and the wearing of the green.
Nice Janice. Ireland is one of those places that is near the top of my ‘places to see’ list. I know I’ll get there some day. Although I’m going to make sure I schedule the trip when the football season in not in full swing :). I had a chat once with a guy who lived outside of Dublin and let’s just say that some of his Irish soccer fan stories left me a little, well, I feel much more encouraged to stay indoors on game nights. 🙂
Still, I think it would be an amazing experience to witness St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland… I wonder if they would hold it against me since I don’t drink beer? Cheers!
Hey! This is about me and I have to say that I am not a pratt nor elitist in any sense of the word. Poor Irish, coal miner’s daughters do not have the luxury of being elite, so I am glad that Rich sees the error of his ways. One time in college he made me cry! Of course, Irish girls do not do it in public unless it’s over babies or animals, but I had a good long burst of angry tears over my “best” friend Rich’s idea of St. Patrick’s Day.
Where I come from people identify with where they come from. There are Irish, Italians, Polish, German, Greeks, etc. There are St. Patrick’s Day parades and everyone comes. In the summer there is the Italian festival and everyone comes. There are church festivals and we all eat perogies. And every once in a while I sneak off to “Uncle Nick’s Greek” fried chicken.
So there you go and yes, St. Patrick did not run around chasing out real snakes. He chased out the pagans.
I also never said I was better than anyone. I was just different, very, very different. Plus, living in Utah brought the Irish Catholic out in me. When you are around people who all believe the same thing it makes you hold on to what you believe in even more so you don’t lose your culture.
You were one of the most opinionated people in that entire school though. 🙂 Still we did have a lot more good times than the occasional arguments we had. Of course at the time I was voted one of the most hated people on campus thanks to my opinion column in the school paper. Liberal perspectives are not well received in a mostly conservative school. Still, it was worth a few laughs. Remember the hate mail from that guy ‘Trish’… ah I still giggle at that one.
Hope you had a brilliant Paddy’s day Irish. Cheers.