How do I know this? Anyone with a dial-up modem can find this on Wikipedia in under 3 minutes. This all started as a religious feast day to honor the patron saint of Ireland. St. Patrick (no last name), was a British missionary who became a bishop after being kidnapped and held by Irish raiders for six years.
But what’s about to go down Saturday is total blarney with a big side of malarky. It’s got little to do with the life and work of a saint. Here are three bits of blarney about St. Patrick’s Day we’ve been believing since Kindergarten.
St. Patrick Drove the Snakes Out of Ireland
No, he didn’t. What are you, six? There were no snakes in Ireland! Dude was a missionary. He was one of those annoyingly earnest folks who go around evangelizing and “saving” pagans. He converted thousands to Christianity, so at best he drove the pagans out of Northern Ireland and into churches.
Snakes?! I think you’re confusing St. Patrick with The Pied Piper. He led the rats out of town. Then he led all the children out of town when he didn’t get paid for the rat job. More of a pissed-off musician turned kidnapper-for-ransom than a saint.
European fairy tales are totally ‘effed up, aren’t they?
Shamrocks Bring You Luck
Yes, and three-leaf clovers are magically delicious too. Put down your Lucky Charms and break open a book. Shamrocks are associated with Saint Patrick because he used them to evangelize.
Yes, the three leaves helped him explain the religious concept of the Holy Trinity (Father, Son & Holy Ghost) to simple-minded pagans. He used the ubiquitous plant as a metaphorical teaching tool. Nothing magical or lucky about it. Just good teaching technique.
The luck comes from the odds of finding a four-leaf clover. Three-leaf clovers are natural. Four-leaf clovers are an aberration of nature. About 1 in 10,000 clover plants produce 4-leaves. So though it would be rare to find a 4-leaf clover, it’s not going to bring you luck.
Shamrocks can remind you of religion, but they’re not gonna lead you to a pot of gold.
Green Is The Color of Saint Patrick
No, it’s not. It’s blue. The Order of Saint Patrick, founded in 1783, established blue as the color to be associated with Saint Patrick. But in the 1790’s, the Irish nationalist movement adopted green as their color, and the co-opting of a religious holiday began in earnest.
The color green continued to be associated with all things Irish throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. And Saint Patrick’s day began to have nothing to do with the saint, and everything to do with leprechauns (a derogatory depiction of Irishmen), green beer, and I’m quoting directly from Wikipedia now, “drunk driving, property damage, absenteeism, public urination, and vomiting.”
So a solemn occasion gets co-opted by a secular caricature. Just like Santa Claus with Christmas, the Easter Bunny with Easter, and the Poulan Weed Eater Bowl with, well, never mind,
Here’s Why I’m All For It
What? What happened to this self-righteous rant? Why am I suddenly all for the bastardization of a solemn, religious feast day in honor of a saint?
Because we (and by we I mean you) need more partying and far less solemnity. Religious celebrations are important, but they don’t reach the masses the way a goofy parade and fountains colorized with green vegetable dye do. We (you) need more occasions to cut loose, have fun, and play hard.
Manic Impressives and creatives of all types need to bust out of their day-to-day as often as they can. Cutting loose is important to our idea-generating process, and our positive feelings about ourselves and our prospects. A bit of Blarney is good for us.
So Enjoy The Blarney Of St. Patrick’s Day
Go ahead, drink whiskey and do a little River Dance on St. Patrick’s Day. Then party with the Frito Bandito on Cinco de Mayo and get tequila from the shooter girl with the bandolero belt. And dance to the oldies and shout the horn line from “Sweet Caroline” (Bah Bah Bahhhh!) in a crowd whenever you can.
You need it, you deserve it, and it’s good for you. If you Play Hard you’ll be able to Create Hard. A bit of Blarney now and then will help.
But don’t you dare try to tell me that chocolate eggs and jelly beans come from a damn bunny…