remember groundhog day? how i couldn't just let it pass with an observation or two? well, happy st. patrick's day.
you all know who he was, right? he was born in what was then, england in the 4th century, kidnapped as a boy to ireland, escaped, became a cleric, returned to ireland and used the shamrock with it's three leaf shape to teach christianity and especially the trinity to heathens, and essentially brought christianity to ireland. you did all know that right? well spoiler alert in reverse if you didn't.
i've always heard some stuff about his driving the snakes out of ireland. let's put this puppy to bed right now. first of all, ireland is an island, (that's not so easy to say. try it three times fast). it is separated from the land mass of europe so there are no snakes. nada. el zippo. so that's just a big fairy tale. (speaking of fairies, i'll get there in a minute). so there's no snake story involved, but a similar story is popular about a pied-piper and the rats of hamelin, but i digress.
over the centuries, the irish claimed him as their own, and celebrations began around the 17th century to commemorate him, involving wearing the color green (to commemorate the rolling hills of the motherland) and of course shamrocks. the wearing of the green actually began as a political statement in the 1798 irish rebellion led by soldiers. you did know that too, right? come on people, get with it.
so the wearing of the green is a tradition, and people all over get in the spirit and wear green, irish or not. why? do jews wear crucifixes on easter? do caucasians wear dashikis on kwanzaa? do we all don chinese hats on new year's eve of the rat? i think not.
in more modern times, the celebrations have been formalized into mostly parades and drinking festivals. yes, there's corned beef and cabbage (although i mostly think of corned beef as a jewish thing, personally.) but apparently the irish claim it as their own for one day a year, so i just let it be. no point in making a fuss. my people claim it the rest of the year. (and quite frankly, i'll take a jewish corned beef sandwich over an irish one anyday, but that's just me.) as for the drink festivals, that's a peculiar thing.
the irish, it seems, are famous, nay, notorious for drinking. (see drunken irish). i'm not sure why. (yes, i know they drink a lot, but then so do presbyterians. (albeit an irishman's idea of a good time is a shot and a beer, while the prezzies prefer a highball or a martini.) it's not a big deal to drink a lot. nuns do it, only they use coffee cups for propriety's sake. i even know a lot of gays that drink at least as much as the irish, although the preference, of course, would be for more lady-like drinks like cosmos or appletinis. (oh mary, don't ask). as i said, i'm not sure why the irish have such a bad rap about the drinking, but if an impartial observer took notes on saint patrick's day, the jury would declare the entire irish clan a bunch of drunks. (but then again, the same could be said about 100 million people right here on superbowl sunday, and that's just a football game, so there.) but hey, it's only one day, ok? ease up, will ya?
so to sum up so far, we have a group of people, identified with a particular island in great britain, but living all over the world, of course, who once a year dress up in green, wear shamrocks in one form or another, march in parades, hang out in bars and get drunk. hmmm. when you think about it, it's not much of a holiday really. not like christmas with it's presents, or hanukkah with its festival of lights and potato latkes, or even 4th of july with it's picnics, bar-b-ques, and fireworks. it's not even a day off from work when it falls on a weekday. i'm truly not sure what the big deal is about st. pat's day. but faith and begorrah, the irish sure love it.
and about that parade. there's usually a big one in lots of cities, but new york's is perhaps the biggest of them all. (after all, they do have a cathedral there named for him, and it's a beauty, too). many of the police and fireman are of irish descent, and in their parade, pretty much all are welcome to build a float, raise your banner, fly your colors and be proud.....except the gays. for some odd reason, they don't allow the gays to march in the saint patrick's day parade in new york. do they think there are no irish gays? i mean, if oscar wilde were alive, would they let him march? pretty good playwright, proud irishman and all? how about rosie o'donnell? she's alive. how come she can't march? i've seen her march in gay pride parades. she happens to be an excellent marcher and i think she would add something to the festivities, but alas, not allowed. hmmm. i guess that let's me out too. nice jewish gay boy with irish friends, forbidden to march. for a holiday that's really not such a much, seems to me they could use all the help, color, style and panache they can get. (although truth be told, the gays are not partial to green beer. too hard to find matching accessories.)
you know what? screw it. i'm putting this holiday up on the shelf with groundhog day. no big whoop. and this year on st. patrick's day, i'm going to a jewish deli to eat a hot corned beef sandwich on rye with good deli mustard and a pickle. (way better than boiled cabbage and potatoes.) rosie and i will see you at the gay pride parade.
top of the mornin' to you, and erin go bragh.