Sunday, March 17, 2013

St. Patrick's Day: A Brief History

Today is St. Patrick's Day, the day when  otherwise sane people lose touch with reality and suddenly start thinking they have Irish ancestry while imbibing massive quantities of beer dyed the color of goblin vomit. I thought it might be informative to look briefly into the history behind this holiday.

In ancient times, hundreds of years before the dawn of history, lived a strange race of people: the druids. No one knows who they were or what they were doing, but they ruled Ireland with an iron fist. The Irish people were oppressed and unhappy, because not only were they druids mean, but they wouldn't share their beer. This caused the Irish to be sober, which as we all know, is not the natural state of an Irishman. Into this situation was born St. Patrick, the half-brother of St. Valentine, whose history we recounted last month.

St. Patrick saw the oppression of the Irish people by the druids and realized that something needed to be done. Rounding  up all of the druids, he drove them to the shores of the Irish Sea, where he struck his staff against the ground and the sea parted, allowing the druids to escape into Scotland and England, where their legacy remains, hewn into the living rock of Stonehenge. Most people believe that St. Patrick drove the snakes out of England, but  this is only partly true, as will soon become terribly apparent.

The druids kept that snakes in Ireland as pets, believing that they a snake in the house would keep the English away. This was all too true: The English were deathly afraid of snakes and would flee frantically at the sight of one. When the druids took their pet snakes to England, the English of the region fled back across the Irish Sea to Ireland, where they immediately began oppressing the Irish  even worse than the druids had. On the other hand, they brought with them the  recipes for fine British ale, which allowed the Irish to escape the oppression, if only through  the magical properties of alcohol.

This is why the Irish don't celebrate St. Patrick's Day in quite the way we do in the U.S. They mostly sit in their homes and drink large quantities of beer and curse the English, then take to the streets in roving gangs that beat the snot out of any sober people they find, swearing, "The English suck, but their beer is a blessing. Your sobriety is an affront  to the Lord and to Ireland. Feel the wrath of my shillelagh!" And they proceed to whack them with sticks.

And that's the true story of St. Patrick's Day. Here in America, we've romanticized it into an awesome beer swilling event,even inventing a magical creature called the leprechaun, who is like a midget, only even more magical, creating delicious breakfast foods with a wave of his little magical hand. There's something about shamrocks there too, which are like clover, except magical, but I never really did understand why. And, unfortunately, we will mostly have to make do with American beer,which is sort of like goat pee, only cold, and for us alcoholics, O'Doul's, which sounds Irish, but is really cold goat pee without the benefit of the buzz.

So,lift a glass with your friends and neighbors, beat the snot out of a sober person, and most of all, have a Happy St. Patrick's Day!