Saturday, March 2, 2013

Silly Green Hats and All

Top of the mornin'!

Some facts about me: I was born in America. I was raised in America, too. Aside from a research trip to France, I've never stepped foot off of US soil. I like it here. I complain a lot, but I like it. It's my firm belief that we Americans are blessed and that this is still the numero uno country in the world - hands down.

Yet I love Saint Patrick's Day. Love it. What's more, I like to spend Saint Patrick's Day walking around in a giant, silly green hat - despite the fact I quit drinking well over a decade ago. My wife finds this all quite embarrassing. Or at least she used to. Ridiculousness has a way of growing on people. 

Which leads me to the point of this piece:

There are those who find the Hallmarkification of Saint Patrick's Day distasteful, or, worse yet, offensive. I find this puzzling. While it's true that no date on the calender should serve as an excuse to slip into a stupor, no one should be offended by people wanting to have a good time for purely innocuous reasons. 

I'm a Catholic who, in this secular (even anti-Christian)  age believes Saint Patrick's conversion of pagan Ireland was an extraordinary and laudable feat.  I'm also well versed in Irish-Americana. My grandmother was once Waterbury, Connecticut's "Irish American Mayor For The Day". She used to tell us stories about her father not being able to get a job because he was Irish. Back in the seventies, my mother gave our two Airedale terriers Irish names. Airedale's are an English breed, after all, and my mother felt the need to somehow protest English oppression of the Emerald Isle. 

So yes, I agree that Saint Patrick is a figure well worth honoring. I  also agree that the history of the Irish people has generally been a dark and sad one. Yet there's nothing wrong with turning Saint Patrick's Day into a fun, lighthearted occasion. No one's diminishing anyone's culture or achievements. People are just having a grand 'ol time. 

Here's another way of looking at it: if it weren't for Saint Patrick's Day, most people wouldn't know who the great saint was. What's more, there wouldn't be a single day of the year where the Irish people were universally celebrated. 

That being said, I'm going to dig out my silly green hat now. After all, the big day's only two entire weeks away.

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