St. Patrick’s Day is an odd holiday. In America, we’ve co-opted the event — as we often do — to sell products and drink excessively.
Of course, we’re not the only ones, but you don’t see many other countries dyeing their rivers green even though St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated worldwide. Am I right, Chicago?
Ask anyone why we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and you’ll invariably get some combination of Irish pride, green beer, Shamrock Shakes, four-leaf clovers, or St. Patrick leading the snakes out of Ireland.*
Few will convey that the Feast of Saint Patrick was originally a religious holiday celebrating the arrival of Christianity to Ireland.
Saint Patrick was an actual person, a 5th-century bishop and a bit of a storyteller. He established his own story in several known parts. Legend has it that after being kidnapped and forced to work as an island shepherd for more than half a decade, he received a message from God that he should flee for the coast where a ship was waiting.
After returning to Ireland, he became a priest evangelizing across the countryside. His legend grew in the centuries that have followed in the same way a truth and a lie can evolve on an elementary school playground.
I can’t say I ever cared about the backstory when I adorned myself in shamrock boxer shorts and downing 32-ounce green lagers before the St. Patrick’s Day parade during my younger years. Nor did I think to toast to the religious leaders who thought it wise to temporarily lift Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking for the day in the Irish-Catholic church.**
I’m not trying to be a Negative Nellie or Bummer Bob.*** I’m all for celebrations and parades and toasting to history if for no other reason, than we need to grab onto all the opportunities for joy we get in this lifetime. If I’ve learned anything over the past few years, it is that.
I’m using my platform to suggest we take some time this holiday weekend to celebrate Irish culture respectfully and responsibly with a pint of Irish-style stout or snifter of Irish whiskey.
Perhaps offer a toast to one of the many things that Ireland has shown the world, including the potato chip, color photography, a veritable dictionary of expressive curse words, excellent folk music, and the greens of the Emerald Isle.
Raise your glass to the writings of James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and Samuel Beckett.
Cheers to Lady Mary Heath, “the first person ever to fly solo from South Africa to London on an epic 10,000-mile journey.” Tap your glass with a whisper of thanks for the art of the Celtic knot. Thank the Irish for modern chemistry, croquet and the ejection seat.
I’ll be right there with you washing my Irish Soda Bread down with a stout**** and a nod watching one of my favorite movies of 2022, “The Banshees of Inisherin.”
- Pucks & Pints returns on April 8th. The charity hockey game features local brewers, industry professionals, and a mini-beer fest at Phil’s BBQ. The event is capped off at the San Diego Gulls versus Calgary Wranglers hockey game. All the proceeds from the event are donated to ResQue Ranch, Emilio Nares Foundation, Boys & Girls Club of Greater San Diego, and the San Diego Brewers Guild. Last year the event raised more than $20,000, and this year they hope to bring in even more. Tickets are $60 and are available at com.
*Not literally. It is an allegory about driving sin from the pagans he converted to Christianity.
**Lent is a Christian holiday celebrating the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert and resisting the devil’s temptations.
***Sorry, Nellies and Bobs.
****I’ve got nothing against Ireland’s most famous beer export, but I’ll seek out a local craft brewery’s Irish-style stout. Oceanside Ale Works is dropping six new beers on St. Paddy’s day.