I always wanted to be Irish — or at least have some sort of ethnic background to grab onto other than being mired in the gaucheness of being sans pedigree. I’m a mutt, plain and simple. A mixture of whatever was around at any given point in time. Evidently, my relatives didn’t stick to the guidelines of staying true to any sort of “roots”. They’re more of the belief system of “love the one you’re with”. Or perhaps they were attracted to tragic stories like Romeo and Juliet or Maria and Tony from West Side Story? The excitement of crossing ethnic and cultural boundaries was just too much of a temptation for my people? Â I can’t fault them, I suppose. We are the stuff that makes our Nation the Great American Melting Pot (go ahead and dig out your School House Rock DVD – The Great American Melting Pot was one of the better “lessons”). I guess I could claim whichever heritage grabs my interest since I’m a little bit of everything. And since I resemble the Irish with my red hair, fair skin, blue eyes, and keen interest in anything slightly resembling tap dancing (although I could never hold my arms completely still like the Irish dancers do) I think I’ll glom onto the Irish. Aye. Plus, I love the idea of calling potato chips “crisps”.
So, with my newly adopted Irish heritage, I can dive head first into celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.
St. Patrick, you know, was NOT Irish. He was born into a wealthy Romano-British family during the fifth century. At the age of sixteen (in his “Pre-Sainthood” life) he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and held captive as a slave on the coast of Ireland. Â While in captivity, young Patrick had a dream where God told him to flee from his captors, so flee he did. He hopped a boat back to Britain and joined the church upon his arrival. He eventually studied to become a priest.
Somewhere in his later years he was called back to Ireland to save the Irish people. Legend has it that St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Trinity (The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) to those he was trying to convert. It’s widely known that the Irish are visual learners, so he was quite successful in his conversion endeavors. Oh, okay. I don’t know this to be a fact. But I am a visual learner and I am Irish. Therefore, all Irish people are visual learners. Isn’t that basic philosophical statistics? Based on my Philosophy 110 class at Ohio University (that I had to take twice) this is, indeed, a fact. Anyway, St. Patrick later died in Ireland, on March 17, 461, and a holiday was born.
While St. Patrick’s Day formally began as a Catholic holiday, it has gradually morphed into a more secular celebration of Ireland’s culture. It’s usually seen as a one-day break during Lent (the 40 day period of fasting) thus becoming a holiday revolving around drinking. I guess because alcohol is what many people would give up for Lent? I don’t know. It’s just a guess.
I think St. Patrick’s Day is truly the reason I wish to be Irish. I am not a fan of holidays in the traditional sense, usually because holidays are fraught with stress and family drama. There’s such high expectations for Christmas to award the “perfect gift”, Thanksgiving to show others that you’re so thankful for them that you can’t live without them, and Valentine’s Day necessitates getting creative enough to prove enough love to last until Sweetest Day. I’m not a fan of expectations (a definite side effect of my pantophobia). But I’m a big fan of small surprises. Like receiving a green marker on St. Patrick’s Day. That, to me, would be perfect. Something I didn’t expect. Something that speaks to me personally since I’m obsessed with markers and a variety of other office supplies. I never played “house” when I was younger, I always played “office”. I’ll take a stapler over domestic chores any day! But back to St. Patrick’s Day – that’s clearly the holiday for me. No expectations. And you can drink green beer if you want to. Take in a parade if the mood strikes. Wear green, which is a good color choice for me.
And when I truly think about it, this is the time of year when I met my musical idol, Peter Frampton. I was a big fan of his from the age of six (thanks to having an older sister who was also into music). I played “Frampton Comes Alive” on my turntable so many times that I went through approximately five copies of his double-live album. I even had it on 8-track. So, fast forward a few years to my early 20’s. I went to see Peter in Cincinnati and actually met him after the show. I blurted (maniacally) that I was a huge fan of his. He said that he was going to be in Columbus for a show on St. Patrick’s Day and I said (maniacally) “I KNOW! I’M GOING!”. He then asked me if I was a weirdo, which deflated me a bit. Then he suggested that we catch up with each other while he was in town. So, I remember green beer and pool playing with my musical idol, which I guess is what endears me to St. Patrick’s Day instead of the original thought of my wishing to be Irish.
So, never mind. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone.