On Saint Paddy’s day, there are Americans who are of Irish descent that do not maraud in the streets in drunken stupors. We do not carouse. There is no Bacchanal on this holy day.
This is the day the Irish and those of Irish descent go to church, have a quiet dinner with their families, and give thanks for the service that Saint Patrick has given to free the people from evil and bring them to godliness. There is no alcohol sold on that day.
Those on the outside looking in have claimed this holy day as a reason to drink ‘til comatose or become stumbling, inebriated assholes puking at curbs. They wear green hats, socks, green pins, green shirts, and drink green beer (if only Padrick had foreseen this travesty…).
You do not get to be Irish for a day. You do not get to appropriate our heritage as a reason to lose all dignity. And like every other oppressed population in America, we only get a day of recognition for the services our ancestors have provided to the prosperity of this country.
I do not make claims of equivalencies here. I make the comparison above because only oppressed populations get “special” days or months. The longer the “celebration,” the greater the oppression.
Saint Paddy’s day has become an oxymoron in America. The holy day to celebrate freedom and devotion has been turned on its ear and twisted into a nightmare of consumerism and corporate manipulation. I’m sure the bars in every American town are delighted to take your coin. I know the liquor magnates get excited about March 17th.
Holy days for the Irish are just that. The day is a time of reflection, of gratitude, and family. Imagine the British turning an American holiday like Independence Day into some dog and pony show where everyone pretends to be Texan for a day, coal-rolls with their hemis in grand parades, and stages mock lynching while drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon. Would you be offended?
I am because I value my heritage. American society has twisted up and focused on the least admirable of qualities attributed to the Irish. The true purpose is to celebrate the spirit of the Irish in their devotion to the best qualities of people: Loyalty, kindness, family, and unshakable faith.
Just because I’m offended doesn’t mean you must stop celebrating Saint Paddy’s day in whatever manner you wish. My greatest distress is that the Mardi Gras of “Irish”-American depravity is conflated with living, breathing people of Irish descent who will be in church today and will return home for a traditional meal of their ancestors.
For my family, corned-beef and cabbage with soda bread is the traditional meal. And it may sound trite and commercial because it’s a meal associated with the Irish. But when you add in the Potato Famine and the economic collapse of that era, which sent the Irish swimming to America in droves, corned beef would be a big deal reserved for the holy days.
Saint Patrick’s Day is a celebration of freedom that was granted through God’s servant. To my knowledge, Padrick wasn’t of Irish descent at all, but that’s the beauty of the Irish. Having been vilified, they vilify none. They welcome others to their table because nothing is more sacred than breaking bread with friends and family.
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.
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