You may be aware that yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day. Now, for most Israelis this isn’t a special day, really. I found myself the only Irie in a sea of Israelis last night, and decided that I should know more about the man, the myth, and the legend that has made this national holiday for my people.
Succat (he wasn’t a saint yet when he was born – he had this pagan name before being baptised Patricius, which means noble) was actually born in Britain, and kidnapped to work as a slave in Ireland when he was young. He got back to Britain, but returned to Ireland later in life as a missionary.
There aren’t very many verifiable facts available about him and his life, leaving him as a figure open to much interpretation – in true Irish spirit, taking an idea and making what you want of it. Some call it blarney, others call it historical interpretation. Semantics, really.
Catholics claim him as the father of Catholocism in Ireland, responsible for converting all the pagans. Any one else think that’s a load of hooey? The Irish are some of the most pagan people I know of, to this day. My grandfather saw spirits and faeries and leprechauns and all that, for goodness sakes (of course, it could have also been the other spirits laying around).
Protestants say Paddy was an anti-Catholic, and credit him with creating the Celtic church – making him an Irish hero, not just a Catholic one.
Of course, Evangelical Protestants, Mormons, and New Age Christians also all consider him one of their own. How, considering they didn’t even exist in Ireland at the time, I don’t know. But I’m not going to seek them out to argue with them about it.
Paddy is credited with banishing all the snakes from Ireland. Which is just like the Irish, to make a hero out of a man for banishing something that never existed there in the first place. But some people say that “snakes” really means “Pagans” – and we know my thoughts on that. Pagans were about as banished as whiskey and potatoes.
The intended meaning of St. Patrick’s Day is as a traditional day of spiritual renewal and offering prayers for missionaries worldwide. March 17 is the date they think he died; it’s a religious holiday in Ireland where people go to mass and most businesses are closed. Then they go home and drink as usual – it’s just that in the rest of the world they skip the mass and go straight to the drinking. And since they’re trying to drink like the Irish, they end up sloppy drunk.
So here’s to you, Paddy m’boy. I tried to go to an Irish pub but it was too crowded and I realized all that really mattered was that I had a beer, any beer. So I found myself at a quintissentially Jerusalem pub, drinking Murphy’s and Bushmills and getting into a fight with a British Israeli (I believe the term “double oppressor” was thrown around. What can I say, I fight dirty), while listening to Indian music and hearing conversations in Hebrew floating around me. I had you in my heart.