Well, St Patrick’s Day is upon us again, and you know what that means! No, not that… No, not that either… Okay, I’ll just tell you. It’s time for my annual Why I Don’t Like St. Patrick’s Day Buzzkill! Yay!
Yes, loyal readers, I have been – in my more dramatically self-indulgent periods – the guy who walks around Psh-ing and rolling my eyes, and when you, bubbly and cheerful in your shamrocks and “Everyone’s Irish On St. Patty’s Day !” shirt, ask me, “Why aren’t you wearing green?” I scowl and blurt back, “Because it’s a terrible holiday. Do you even know the story of St. Patrick?” and then I rant for ten minutes – your smile growing pained and faded – and I get to know I made someone’s day juuuuust a little worse. Ahh. Good times, good times.
I’ve mellowed quite a bit since then, but I still got a touch o’ the buzzkill in me.
And before you go accusing me of just not being or liking the Irish – I stink Irish. My mother’s family name is Keating. The first time I smelled Jameson whiskey it made me think of my grandfather. There are more depressives, poets and recovering drinkers in my family tree than you could shake a shillelagh at. And I look more Black Irish (which is a type of Irish – not half Irish, half African) than Daniel Day-Lewis listening to The Pogues while drinking Guinness and writing a poem about British oppression. On my father’s side? Scottish, and the family name traces back to the five families who came over from Ireland and settled Scotland. I even have our Scottish clan motto tattooed on my arm.
Okay, so the “Yay Ireland” stuff is fun, and dying rivers green is kind of festive, unless you live in the river… but first the drinking. “It’s just an excuse to drink!” people say, which is weird, because presumably you’re a grown-up and can make that choice of your own free-will. But it isn’t just that the Irish loves them a drink, right? Ireland has been plagued with alcohol abuse for centuries. Possibly more damage and lack of progress has been inflicted on Ireland by alcohol than anything else. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is among the worst in the world there. There was actually a time when Ireland liberated itself from England entirely, and had this massive celebration at castle Kilkenny that lasted 3 days, and then when everyone was exhausted and hungover, the English just stroooolled back in and took over. Which, okay, is really pretty funny, but the point is people take one of the biggest burdens of the nation and run with it. It’d be like being at an AA meeting and saying, “I don’t know about you guys, but all this talk about booze makes me want to party!”
As for Patrick: for starters he wasn’t Irish, he was English. And his name wasn’t Patrick, it was Maewyn Succat. And there weren’t any snakes in Ireland to drive out. “Snakes” is slang for a celtic person/pagan, and he “drove” them “out” by converting them to Catholicism. I was told once by some genuine Irish folks that he did this through Spanish Inquisition-esque means (which was good enough for me for several years of buzzkilling), but I’ve never seen that corroborated by a reliable source, so I’m not sure I buy it. Regardless, though, it’s really more of a celebration of Catholicism than of Ireland, per se. And, obviously, the cutsie stuff can get a little degrading.
If you really want to be a serious celebrator of Ireland, wait until Halloween. That’s the Celtic New Year. You have a big Celtic New Year party. No one will come, and the kids coming to your door dressed as Buzz Lightyear and Hermione will hate you, but won’t it be worth it? When they say, “Wow. He/She really celebrated Ireland”? Totally worth it And then next St. Patrick’s day you too can be a buzzkill!
Okay. I’m done. You are now free to ignore me and have fun. You are even free to go drink green beer and talk like the Lucky Charms guy and have wild times with your friends while I sit in the corner sulking and muttering, “Oh, they think they’re having fun. They don’t know. They just don’t know.”
Just like a real Irishman.