Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! Let’s dye everything green and get drunk! Well, I’m still sober for 33 more days, but that’s not what makes this holiday transparent to me.
There is a diaspora of Irish descendants in the Western world – as is famously cited each year at this time, there are more Irish people in the United States than in Ireland today. That’s using the term “Irish” liberally, just like claiming any other nationality from where ancestors lived generations ago. People are conveniently part-German during Oktoberfest, and everyone likes to justify their prejudice as “not racist” because of some ancestor so far back that gives them claim to the group they’re judging. But like Christmas not being genuinely Christian anymore, Saint Patrick’s Day has little significance to actual Irish observances and traditions.
Well, except for drinking. And fighting. But that’s not really done in the spirit of Saint Patrick.
I’m cynical about most holidays, certainly, but there’s particular room for improvement in this one. I’d be much happier with green vomit abound if it was from people finally eating their vegetables. If the drunken spirit of the event wasn’t so…Catholic in its sexual demeaning of women because you can confess for forgiveness later, I may even be drawn to celebrating it among the general public. And if people didn’t use this as the one day of the year to call themselves “Irish” as described above I would be far less jaded about all of this.
After all, the things we see as Irish – their staple the potato, the chocolate flavour in Guinness beer, bright orange ginger hair – were all introduced to their culture and gene pool after the life of Saint Patrick, who wasn’t ethnically Irish himself. And there were never any snakes in Ireland, ever, so let’s abandon that historical fallacy. If you want to celebrate banishing unwelcome serpentines, do it in the name of Samuel L. Jackson, and do it on a motherfucking plane.