What's the craic?
You know that I adore St. Patrick's Day. I studied in Ireland, I have an Irish last name, I like Irish music, I like fish and chips, and I like Guinness. Hooray for Saint Patrick's Day! Today I am wearing my most garish green argyle sweater and Irish national soccer team jersey, participating in the ritual "Giving Out of the Shamrock Stickers."
That said, I would like to clear up some of the misconceptions about Saint Patrick's Day/Ireland I noticed today.
1) Only people who think someone in their family several hundred years ago was from Ireland can participate. FALSE. People who like St. Patrick's Day do not have to be any sort of hyphenated Irish at all. They like to have fun and if they are worth having fun with, do not care if your last name is O'Reilly or Gonzales. If you feel weird about it or left out anyway - make up some Irish ancestors. Your great-great-great uncle Seamus? That guy was a trip. (I promise no one will know.)
2) One must be completely, smashingly drunk to enjoy Saint Patrick's Day. FALSE. Did I mention the ritual "Giving Out of the Shamrock Stickers?" I think I did. While drinking is an activity heavily associated with March 17th, it is not necessary for celebrating or enjoying the day. I am not drunk, and had a pretty fantastic day. Have some tea and Digestive biscuits. Watch a stereotypical Irish movie (Waking Ned Devine is a good one). Look at pretty pictures of one of the most beautiful islands on the planet. Wear some awful green socks. Eat some soda bread and blood pudding - heck, throw a piece of ham on your plate and call it bacon. All of these things are sufficient Saint Patrick's Day celebratory things, drinking not necessary.
3) Irish people in Ireland hate Saint Patrick's Day, don't wear green or go to the pub, this is a ridiculous and stupid American tradition that should be stopped. HALF FALSE. I admit I was guilty of this one before experiencing an Ireland Saint Patrick's Day myself. While real Irish people (that is, born and raised in Ireland) generally do not wear green or shirts with shamrocks on them today (or... ever), they do spend the entire day at the pub. I know, because I was there, and there were more Irish people in the pubs in Cork than Americans. Don't try to tell me Saint Patrick's Day in Ireland is more like our Thanksgiving - it's not. Unless your Thanksgiving includes going to mass in the morning then booking it to the pub to have some craic, food, and spirits with friends for the rest of the day. (In which case - invite me next time.)
4) The IRA is cool/it's okay to hate on the English if you're "Irish-American" FALSE. While I think it ought to go without saying, the things I hear every year at Milwaukee's IrishFest compel me to inform the small portion of Internet that reads my blog: Not cool. The majority of people in Ireland don't think the IRA is cool. Americans who put "26 + 6 = 1" stickers on their cars and say things like, "Get the British out of Ireland, the Irish have made it clear they don't want the British there," (seen in the New York Times blog comments on Friday) don't know what they're talking about and should remember that people in other countries really hate it when we get involved in their political disputes without understanding the issues (and sometimes when we do understand them). I'm certainly not an expert on Northern Ireland politics by any stretch of the imagination, but I did live there and would like very much for people to do some research before they open their mouths, especially today.
End of soapbox!
Happy Saint Patrick's Day! What's the craic?