Today is St. Patrick’s Day, once a Holy Day of Obligation in the Catholic calendar — at least for the Irish. It is, in this country anyway, an excuse … not, a mandate … to get snot-slinging drunk and parade up and down the streets while doing so. Some people might even attend a St. Patrick’s Day Parade before doing so. It isn’t really an Irish tradition, despite all the hype.
In a previous St. Patrick’s post I’ve talked about how my parents, one completely Hungarian and the other partially Irish, gave me the middle name of Patrick and called me “Timothy Patrick O’Forkes.” Cute, huh …
St. Patrick’s Day goes back a thousand years in Ireland. Before Irish soldiers serving the British Crown started their own drunken versions of it here in the Colonies, families would trudge off to church for the obligatory Mass for St. Patrick and then have their meal blessed by the Father: Aodhan, Aedan, Breandan, Cabhan, Carrick, Cian, Darcy, Eamon, Fergus, Finn, Malachi and even Padraig. Good grief, Athair Padraig (Father Patrick).
Just as an aside: If you see some kid running around the playground with a weirdly spelled name like Breandan or Cabhan, it means his parents are Irish and trying to get in touch with their roots. And then call CPS because no one should let his or her children run around a playground without adult supervision. Once, my sister wouldn’t let me take her 16-year old son to Tijuana, B.C., Mexico without adult supervision. Different story, never mind.
Just another aside: my parents sent me to a seminary one summer for an orientation to enter the school and eventually become a priest. It didn’t work out so well. I returned to public schools and eventually joined the U.S. Marines, a group that has a far less vicious reputation than the Catholic Church.
Okay, this is the last aside: Leprechauns are not happy, fun creatures. they are to be avoided at all costs because they are mean and can be vicious.
Corned beef came into the picture after the British conquered Ireland and started using Irish beef for food. Then the British introduced corned beef to the world (beef preserved with big chunks of salt the size of corn kernels) and it came primarily from Ireland. Most Irish families couldn’t afford beef, nor did they want to eat it. Cows — cattle — were sacred and were only eaten as a last resort when the animals became too old. The “traditional” Irish meal on St. Patrick’s Day might have bacon or ham if the family could afford it, since pigs were bred for food, but not beef.
Whoever thought boiling beef of any kind with cabbage and other vegetables was a good idea anyway? Maybe it isn’t so bad.
Anyway, the Irish families would traipse off to Mass and then honor the Great Saint who catholicized all of Ireland and brought the Irish people under the tyranny of Rome, the Vatican to be precise.
Then the British, along with several other European nations, invaded North America, forcing the native inhabitants out of their homes, often by brutal force, before settling in the prime locations of New York City and Boston to spread their version of the European Dream of White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant domination of the world.
Except that they had these damned Irish Catholics in their ranks who started worshipping God in their manner, which included a day of celebration for Good St. Patrick.
Which, unlike in Ireland, had a whole lot of combustible drinking included.
It’s likely many people in Ireland got drunk on St. Patrick’s Day, but here in the Colonies it became the focus of the day.
So here we are in 2017, celebratin’ the wearin’ o’ the green, St. Patrick’s Day, with parades and drunken revelry for all. Who invented the disgusting idea of green beer? I don’t even want to look at the Wikipedia to find out. You know why green beer tastes like shit? Bar owners aren’t going to put green dye in good tasting beer. Drink it at your own risk. I haven’t had a drink in over 32 years and I can still feel the bile working its way back up my throat … sorry, just got nauseated.
Better to drink the Guinness Stout and Irish whisky. You’ll still end up puking on your shoes, but at least it will taste good going down and you’ll be too drunk to notice the taste as it comes back out. Just a little advice from a former professional drunk.
Speaking of the professionals: most of them will stay close to home, if not at home. St. Patrick’s is Amateur Night and you can bet every law enforcement agency in America will be out looking for drunk drivers. Professionals, for the most part, have already spent a few nights (or months) in jail for drunk driving so they stick close to home. They don’t want to stumble long distances, or they stay at home where they can just pass out on the kitchen floor. And quite possibly they are no longer allowed to legally operate a motor vehicle.
And for damn sure they ain’t gonna waste any good drinking money on a taxi or Uber.
Which brings up this little bit of advice: get a designated driver, or leave the car at home and use public transit, a taxi or Uber, Lyft, etc. Don’t be a statistic or cause someone else to be a statistic. Drunk driving is no bueno.
Now go out and be Irish for a day, if you aren’t already, and enjoy yourself. Hang out with your friends, laugh, have a good time, listen to some Irish music and make it home safely. And have lots of aspirin on hand. You’ll need it tomorrow morning.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Oh wait, one last thing: this is a Friday and it’s Lent, so if you’re a Catholic in good standing you can’t eat meat of any kind so you might as well skip it all.
Photos from Wikipedia unless otherwise noted.
Top photo: The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Montreal, Quebec, Canada