Friday, 16 March 2012

The inevitable Paddy post

It's that time of year again where the internet is buzzing with the legend of Saint Patrick and his driving of all the snakes from Ireland. Not that there ever were any snakes in Ireland. So, you know, obviously that means it was code for druids...

This time last year I remember a big fuss being made about "All Snakes Day" in various places, being promoted as an alternative to St Patrick's Day. I have to admit it really did get my goat a little. So far this year, all I've seen (aside from a few off-hand comments referencing the idea in passing) is how the whole thing is based on faulty history; the snakes weren't the druids, they were snakes. And the story itself was lifted from a different saint's life. And so on. So all in all, holding an alternative day of mourning for the demise of the druids, based on a story that was never about the druids...It seems a bit pointless to me. It's nice to see that so many agree, otherwise I'd feel even more curmudgeonly than I already do.

Then again, one could argue that faulty interpretations of history (and culture) are what St Patrick's Day is all about now. Some years ago, Ben and Jerry's ice cream released a special edition flavour to "celebrate Irish culture." They had the brilliant idea of calling it "Black and Tan," which oh no, couldn't possibly be offensive at all - it's a drink, right?

Umm. No. Not just a drink, anyway.

After the outcry, they pulled the ice cream and apologised profusely. So it's quite perplexing that Nike have now decided to "celebrate" in a similar way with their Guinness and Black and Tan trainers. Awww. Bless 'em. I like how "celebrating" is unashamedly synonymous with "cashing in on" and "being totally unaware of history."

Speaking of which, the controversial parade in New York excels itself in not really grasping the current political situation (or correct and appropriate terminology) as well. I give you exhibit A:
The only banners allowed are ones identifying the unit or "England Get Out of Ireland". Only one banner for each unit. NO EXCEPTIONS!!

Gorm has had a good vent over on his blog about all this and I agree wholeheartedly with his views there. We can harp on about bad history or just get on with it and observe - if we so wish - the day as a celebration of culture and heritage. Not the shamrocks and the weird green beer (seriously folks, what's that about?), not the stereotypes of leprechauns and obligatory about good food, good music, and some good stories instead?

Anyway, I thought I'd leave you with an irreverent view of St Patrick and some of the lore associated with him from some funny and slightly hapless Irish guys. It's well worth a watch, but be aware that there is some language so it probably won't be safe for work (or small children who don't need their vocabulary expanding). And there's also mild inebriation involved: