Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Saint Patrick's Day

I'm trying to figure out how a holiday commemorating the patron saint of Ireland has become a day filled with alcoholic intake. Maybe this is another example of the ongoing Hallmarking of all aspects of American life. One of the ironies is that Ireland has now begun to copy the bacchanalic aspects of the feast. Twenty-thirty years ago Saint Patrick's Day in Ireland looked like this:

In fact, all the pubs closed on St. Patrick's Day in Ireland. Families attended church and later went for a walk or worked in the garden.
The holiday was exactly that, says Carmel McCaffrey: a holy day.
"When I was a child in Ireland, the pubs didn’t even open. It was a holy day. We went to church," the Irish scholar and former Johns Hopkins professor said in a phone interview from Maryland. "We'd usually just meet up with friends and have a meal. There were no drinks."

That's not what you'll hear in Dublin today, as the holiday to remember the British missionary to the Druids switches focus from religion to revelry.

A couple interesting tid-bits, the story behind the story. March 17 is believed to be the date of Patrick's death. He lived in the fourth and fifth century and was born of Roman parents who lived in Roman- Britain. It's interesting how little is really known about him. Much of the writings about his life, and the legends that developed came from the 7th century and later.

It's hard to believe what his "day" has become. I'm not passing judgement one way or another. Just amazed.

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