St. Patrick’s Day. Every year people celebrate this day by punishing their livers and making poor wardrobe choices, with stereotypical and sometimes truly awful T-Shirts. The fake accents yelling out over loud music get worse and worse as the pints keep coming and if you’re lucky, you may get a little Irish parade or traditional music in there somewhere too. It is not the solemn celebration one would associate with a Saint, but rather one that is decidedly sacrilegious in the eyes of the church. And you know what? I absolutely support it, (with the exception of the racist and stereotypical garb and the fake accents,) because anything that removes the original intent of this holiday is just fine by me. After all, this is not a celebration that has anything at all to do with snakes, but rather it is one that celebrates the defeat of free thinkers and ancient traditions. St. Patrick (who was NOT Irish, by the way) has the dubious claim to fame of driving all the snakes out of Ireland…but science has confirmed that there were no snakes at the time. Of course, Christianity uses the metaphor of snakes to talk about evil temptations and the devil himself….and following that metaphor, Patrick driving the snakes from Ireland means he drove out what he considered to be the wickedness – he conquered Pagan Ireland.
Those wicked pagans believed in freedom, in temporary marriages, in full equality for women, and in forms of justice and worship that didn’t involve the church. This was unforgivable in the eyes of Christendom and today is the original celebration of their harassment, replacement, and defeat. It is one holiday (Holy Day) that I refuse to honor. However, since it has transformed into a celebration of Ireland in general, I’ll still be wearing the green (which has more to do with politics than religion for me) and I’ll be enjoying many shenanigans today. I will also be celebrating tomorrow – which is Bring Back the Snakes day – a holy day that I can absolutely get behind. Bring Back the Snakes day was started here in the Bay Area a few decades ago – and it involves rowdy parties, featuring traditional music, poetry, and many other offerings of the Bardic persuasion. It’s a pretty ironic day, given that this is how most people here in America celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in general – with an irreverent derision and (over) indulgent abandon. I guess this means those “snakes” can slither their way back into the consciousness in many ways – and I’m happy to raise my pint to that. Sláinte!