As a person with Irish ancestors, I feel compelled to tip my hat to Saint Patrick's Day. As a person with Irish ancestors, I also feel duty-bound to mix in a wee bit of blarney.
Saint Patrick is famous for (a) bringing Christianity to pagan Ireland and (b) chasing the snakes out of Ireland. Unfortunately, the legend overlooks the fact that there were NEVER ANY SNAKES ON THE ISLAND TO BEGIN WITH! Some have theorized that the myth is a corruption of the fact that Patrick drove the PAGAN INFLUENCE out of Ireland. Sounds plausible. The snake legend has had 1550 years to morph. Just think how modern times will be reported in the distant future. ("And President Dubya unleashed the Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction to keep the housing bubble from bursting, thus putting him one vote ahead of Dick Cheney on American Idol." Or maybe that was FOX News, last week. Never mind.)
Another legend claims that Patrick used the lowly shamrock to teach the pagans of Ireland about the concept of the Holy Trinity. He did this because the flowers were familiar to the audience, because the flowers were plentiful and because the penny-pinching archdiocese refused to spring for PowerPoint! Patrick allegedly also shopped the Whole Earth Grocery for grains to use to illustrate Keynesian economics, the Pythagorean Theorem and Robert's Rules of Order. He supposedly illustrated the ultimate triumph of good over evil by using BUCKWHEAT to indicate that everything would be "O-tay!"
Leprechauns are another part of the Saint Patrick's Day tradition, but modern times have stripped them of much of their charm. You used to be able to capture a leprechaun and make him reveal the location of his pot o' gold. Alas, financial guru Dave Ramsey has convinced the little people to devise a more DIVERSIFIED PORTFOLIO. And you can't negotiate with just a single leprechaun; now you have to engage in COLLECTIVE BARGAINING.
Admittedly, the negotiations could be greased with a few mugs of the Irish stout beer Guinness. One source says that, at 198 calories per pint, Guinness has fewer calories than one percent milk or orange juice. That's right; Guinness is being touted for a healthier you. I can just see pairing it with a Stairmaster. ("Begorrah, I keep fallin' off. I don't think I'll EVER reach the third floor.")
Authorities in Ireland are concerned that the alcohol and other festivities are making the national/religious holiday too secularized. This was even before the announcement of the video series "Celtic Woman Gone Wild," which turns "The Wearing of the Green" into "The Stripping Off Of The Green." It also popularizes phrases such as "When Irish Eyes Are Bulging," "The Gettin' Lucky of the Irish" and "Erin Go Bra-less."
Celebrate Irish culture and history in your own way. (But be sure to wear green, lest some stranger give you a "playful" pinch. I find the custom disturbing, but the focus group did rate it higher than the playful knee to the groin for forgetting Millard Fillmore's birthday.) Chicago dyes its rivers green. Many cities sponsor green-themed parades. The nation's capital keeps printing green money. Of course that's to pay for the bureaucracy for Pres. Obama's new Making Sure The Snakes Don't Return To Ireland Czar, Samuel L. Jackson.
"I have had it with these &^%$# snakes on this @#$%^& Emerald Isle."
©2011 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes reader e-mail responses at firstname.lastname@example.org and visits to his Facebook fan page "Tyree's Tyrades". Danny's' weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.