by Hank Smith
On one day out of the year, March 17, everyone dons their green-colored articles of clothing and accessories in celebration of a certain Saint Patrick. Who is this fine Patrick fellow? I don’t know either. I think he has something to do with snakes. To be more blunt, why do we in the United States celebrate this pointless holiday, especially in the way that we do?
Saint Patrick’s Day is named and celebrated for Saint Patrick, a missionary who preached to the Irish and is the most recognized of Ireland’s patron saints. Thus, it’s all well and good that it’s a national holiday of Ireland. So what is non-Irish America doing celebrating this holiday? We wear green clothing with shamrock (three leaf clover) graphics, have parades, and dye entire rivers green. All in the name of a saint whose accomplishments the majority of us probably don’t know. In legend, St. Patrick is said to have banished snakes from Ireland. However, all evidence points towards Ireland never having snakes in the first place. He is also said to have explained the Holy Trinity to the Irish by showing them the three leaves of a shamrock, hence all of our clover-themed clothing on this day. Originally, Saint Patrick’s Day was a religious feast holiday in Ireland. Yet, like most of our holidays, we’ve completely twisted and commercialized St. Paddy’s Day, and I’m sure that many of our families do not have feasts or make a special trip to church for the occasion.
But worst of all, worse than the obnoxious, traffic-causing parades, and the sickening dyeing of food and bodies of water, is the pinching. If anyone happens to forget, when they wake up, that it’s Saint Patrick’s Day, and as a consequence don’t put on some article of green clothing, they suffer innumerable pinches over the course of the day. I can’t, for the life of me, think of where this particular celebratory action came from, and why it caught on. Nobody punches you on the arm if you celebrate Hanukkah instead of Christmas; nobody slaps you if you don’t give them a Valentine (or maybe they do). Why oh why do we pinch on Saint Patrick’s Day? I’m not predominantly of Irish heritage, and so I choose not to celebrate the holiday like everyone else is content to do, and I know I’m not alone. Yet it’s not-so-subtly forced upon me by way of a small amount of physical pain. I think that it’s only appropriate that the Irish celebrate the holiday, and people of Irish descent. But when a holiday is morphed for consumerism, I’m a bit turned away. And celebration of a holiday should be a choice, and not forced upon anyone. And thus, this Saint Patrick’s Day, just try to pinch me. I dare you.