Happy St. Patrick’s Day (sorta)

367 Days - Day 044

I’m approximately 0% Irish* so I usually don’t bother wearing anything green on St. Patrick’s Day. But this year I’ve got an Irishman I can get behind.

Pedants will point out that the feast day of St. Patrick was actually Saturday, March 15 this year (moved to avoid running into Holy Week). To which I’ll respond that my local Dominick’s had decorations up proclaiming “Happy Shamrock Day” — St. Patrick’s Day is well on its way to the same fate that has befallen Mardi Gras in this country. Stripped of any cultural or religious significance, it’ll be just another Excuse to Drink Day where you wear a seemly-arbitary color of beaded necklace.

Am I ranting? Oops. Happy You’re-Irish Day!

* I’m sure if you back far enough on my Norwegian side, there’s some cross-North Sea genetic transfer.

5 Comments so far

  1. laurie on March 18th, 2008 @ 1:30 am

    This is the 2nd time that I’ve seen derogatory remarks about Mardi Gras on the Chicago Metblog site so I feel I must clear up the misconceptions. First of all, Mardi Gras is not celebrated all over this country. It is celebrated predominantly in south Louisiana but also a couple of other places (like Mobile and Pensacola) that share the same heritage as Louisiana. And in south Louisiana, where it is a very French and very Catholic holiday, it is teeming with religious and cultural significance. In fact, cultural and religious significance is the sole point of Mardi Gras. Now, we can’t help it if midwestern tourists see it as merely another excuse to drink and flash their chests; but, trust me, for Louisianians, Mardi Gras is inextricably linked to Catholicism and our French heritage. It is the last celebration, the last chance for flesh – meat and debauchery, hence "Carnival" – before the austere period of fasting and solemnity that is Lent. You’ve got it backwards – St. Patrick’s Day is the holiday that has held only the illusion of cultural significance and has never truly held any religious significance at all other than the word "Saint."


  2. Fuzzy Gerdes (fuzzy) on March 18th, 2008 @ 7:35 am

    Laurie,

    I’m not putting down Mardi Gras. And I’m certainly not saying that St. Patrick’s Day is "better" or "more pure" than Mardi Gras. I’m trying to say that *both* holidays (and others, too, like Cinco de Mayo) have been seized upon by bars all over this country as excuses to put up vaguely-related banners and have a drinking party. I don’t think it’s a good thing, but I think I’m describing something that’s actually happening. I’m not trying to make derogatory remarks about Mardi Gras — I’m making derogatory remarks about way it’s "celebrated" in most of this country.

    (And I don’t think you need to put someone else’s holiday down to try and preserve the significance of the one you hold dear. That just doesn’t seem productive.)


  3. Fuzzy Gerdes (fuzzy) on March 18th, 2008 @ 7:41 am

    I looked it up — we pretty much had the same conversation last year (but with charts!). Sorry that I continue to be unclear about my observations.


  4. laurie on March 18th, 2008 @ 2:04 pm

    I didn’t put anyone else’s holiday down. (I like St. Patrick’s Day – I’m half French and half Irish!) I merely echoed what you said about St. Patrick’s Day. I guess the point that I’m really trying to make is that Mardi Gras does not occur in the rest of the country. So, if bars want to put up banners and have a drinking fest, fine, but it’s still not Mardi Gras. Pretending that you have Mardi Gras is not the same as having Mardi Gras. Just like someone going to the Chiditarod cannot claim to be a part of the Iditarod in Alaska, even though the Chiditarod a far better and more interesting appropriation. Mardi Gras/Carnival is specific to Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, France, Brazil, the Caribbean, and Venice. If I were to go out drinking with a few friends in honor of Queen Beatrix’s birthday or decorate my bar for it, I can’t claim that it’s an American holiday. St. Patrick’s Day is different because it is legitimately celebrated all over this country. Same as with something like Oktoberfest.

    I think I get what you’re trying to say – that you think it’s sad that St. Patrick’s Day is less about celebrating the Irish than about getting drunk and you also think it is sad that others try to appropriate Mardi Gras to just get stupid and drunk. I whole-heartedly agree. But your wording was off.


  5. Dan Telfer (chi_dan) on March 19th, 2008 @ 12:36 pm

    Laurie,

    I think that though Fuzzy’s wording may be off, he is also referencing a country-wide frame of reference that is (sad or no) more popular than yours. My whole Illinois-living life, as far back as I can remember, people have "celebrated" Mardi Gras by being shitty to each other and falling down drunk. Your semantics debate will never change this.

    So while you may be right, I feel like you’re aiming your argument more at America than this post. Fuzzy can’t change the things he’s referencing, and accusing him of faulty syntax won’t effect the idiots ruining Mardi Gras, who think syntax is a Star Trek character.



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