When I am asked to reflect on St. Patrick’s Day, I think of my Irish heritage. Images of Irish step dancers and beautiful pastoral scenes flutter into my head. Or, I just look at my normally pasty white skin that is now red because, silly me, I tried to get a tan in Florida. I always appreciate that aspect of my Irish ancestry. But let’s stop focusing on my looks and explore the core issue.
What is St. Patrick’s Day really about? Is it our desire to have a justification to drink alcohol on a weekday at 10 a.m.? Is it our cultural obsession with small people that live at the end of rainbows – Lucky the Leprechaun is held on a much higher pedestal then the aging, babbling chef from Cinnamon Toast Crunch or Tony the Tiger, who is too often seen giving pep talks to young male athletes in the locker room. Is it a day that makes us aware of people with red hair – though, personally I think there needs to be a lot less awareness surrounding a certain extremely annoying redhead that does phone commercials. Or maybe it is simply that green is the new pink.
I doubt St. Patrick ever expected the hype that surrounds his special day. St. Patrick – who just went by plain Patrick as a child – was born into a wealthy British family. So technically that might mean that the entire existence of this holiday is a sham and that we should really be handing out platters of “bangers and mash” instead of cupcakes with green frosting. But don’t put down your green beers just yet because Patrick was later kidnapped by Irish raiders who were attacking the family estate. He remained in captivity in Ireland for six years and did the whole shepherd thing for a while. Then after having a profound vision he was inspired to become a missionary and help the Irish population appreciate and convert to Christianity.
The simple, religious story does not really explain why we wear “Kiss me, I’m Irish” T-shirts on this festive day. In fact, until the 1970s, pubs in Ireland were required to be closed on St. Patrick’s Day. Ireland was truly behind America in promoting the commercialism of this holiday – until 1995 when dressing like a leprechaun for tourists’ money was truly embraced.
He did a lot of good things and garnered much fame and so like secretaries, he was given a day by some committee, who I think should also make a day to celebrate the wonder that is Johnny Depp.
So, that is the very detailed description of how St. Patrick’s Day was established. He was just a guy who liked to have fun. Well, I mean his version of fun was having meaningful conversations with God, feeding the hungry and nursing the sick while our version of fun is drinking beer with green food coloring, singing slurred Irish songs and doing awful interpretations of Michael Flatley, Lord of the Dance. But as the saying goes, tomato, tomahtoe. Or should I say shamrock, shamrook?
Lepore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.