Ah Saint Patty’s. That one day of the year where Catholics and Atheists put aside their petty differences, and come together to honour the patron saint of Ireland – a holy man from a mythic age who cleansed the island of snakes and gave it Christianity. An age-old tradition where everyone tosses aside their cares for the day, and meets together for pub crawls, open bars and beer pong tournaments, the object of all of which is one thing. Getting as sloshed as humanly possible.
Except there’s more meaningless bullshit in this opening paragraph than in 25 years of Maltese politics all mashed up together. First of all – Patty is short for either Patricia, or a round serving of ground meat (or chickpeas if you’re one of those vegan types). It’s ‘Paddy’ – as in short for Padraig, the Old Irish version of Patricius – a Latin name which later evolved into Patrick. And consider yourselves lucky you’re learning this from me in a paragraph as opposed to the way I learnt it – via slurred rant from a drunken Irishman.
While we’re at it – Paddy never banished any snakes from Ireland. Nigel Monaghan, a natural historian at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin has stated time and time again that, throughout his extensive research into the flora and fauna of the Emerald Isle, he never once found the tiniest shred of evidence of snakes ever existing there. If you need any more convincing, the companion legend to this one features St. Patrick’s walking stick growing into a living tree.
And finally, we get to the ‘tradition’ of it. Contrary to what you may have believed, the Irish have not in fact been getting sloshed every 17 th of March for the past 1200 years. It’s true that the feast has been celebrated in Ireland since the ninth century AD, it was nothing more than a day where one would attend an extra long sermon, and get a break from lenten fasting. It only became a public holiday in Ireland 1903. And it only became a festival of drunkenness and debauchery very recently, where much like with Valentine’s Day and Halloween, the corporate machine found a way to sink its claws into a moderately popular holiday, and turn it into a moneymaking machine. In fact, $4.8 billion was spent on St. Patrick’s day in 2014 in the United States alone.
But what do we care? It’s as good an excuse to drink as any, and one that makes us justify getting paralytically drunk for one night of the year (and then spending the other 364 making excuses for why it can’t be the only one). Besides, it’s done some great things. It instilled a sense of national pride in the Irish-American communities in Boston, New York and Philadelphia. It gave the world an appreciation of Irish culture (albeit a very twisted version of it). It put money in the pockets of countless event organisers, DJs, bartenders, cab drivers and their ilk. And most importantly, it put a smile on the face of every Irishman, whether at home or abroad, and instilled in them a sense of unity. And that alone is worth a couple white lies about the holiday’s origins. It’s a culture and money spewing machine that any country would be lucky to have represent it.
Now if only the Maltese had a popular saint that came to the island, Christianised it and drove the snakes away…
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I mainly just eat in bed and think of witty things to say on the internet, though.