St Patrick the man & the myth
Is it just me or does it seem like all the fun holidays revolve around drinking?
And this upcoming St Patrick’s day promises to be yet another day of copious consumption of green beer followed by the even greener complexions that mark the faces of those poor souls who’ll spend Saturday in recovery from the combination of too much green beer, Guinness or Leprechaun Inspired cocktails.
But here is an interesting little “factoid” they actually do not drink green beer in Ireland AND St Patrick’s day was not ever intended to be a day of overindulgence in all things green.
No, in fact, it was a day celebrated in sombre and sober recognition of the contributions that a man named Patrick made to the spread and acceptance of the Christian faith in Ireland. The day was intended to be a day of reflection and sober thought and prayer and grace.
The Irish Patron Saint of the Christian faith St Patrick, the “Apostle of Ireland”
BUT WAIT, as it so happens St Patrick Patron Saint of Irish Christianity wasn’t even Irish.
Actually, that fella associated with the day was originally from a Romano/British rather well-to-do family. And while it appears that Patrick’s father was a Deacon of the Christian Church, and his grandfather a Priest, Patrick did not necessarily share in his family’s “faith” what is clear is that in “Romano British” England it was just good politics to be seen to be a Christian.
Anyway, legend has it that at 16 young Patrick was kidnapped by a gang of Irish ‘ner-do-wells’ and taken to Ireland where the story goes that he converted to Christianity while enslaved in confinement. So while have may have had a hand in Christianity’s spread and uptake later on down the road, there are indications that Christianity was in Ireland already.
However, after Patrick’s conversion, he became quite the zealous practitioner of the faith and on his release, or escape depending on the teller of the tale, he so wanted to grace the Christian God who had kept him safe and in the end delivered him from his captors; that he determined he would bring as many to the fold as he could in his father’s name.
Romano- British lad to the Apostle of Ireland to the patron saint of the most renown Irish celebration
So, exactly how did a Romano-British converted ExPat become the poster boy for pubs filled with “Proud to be Irish for a day” Patrons, Jigs & Reels and a general penchant for overindulgence in all things green?
Frankly, the jury’s still out on that one as well. Some claim that St Patrick himself was not a teetotaler and used the act of sharing from a large glass filled with whisky to show how gratitude for abundance could be shared thus creating generosity and charity.
And some claim that it was a sip or two of liquid courage that enabled him to drive the snakes from Ireland. But because as with most stories like these the facts become blurred and the tales more grandiose as the legend grows and the tale is told and retold across generations and continents we may never truly know the origins of that connection. We do have a bead on when St Patrick’s day became a day of celebration that reached past its Irish population. It may well have begun back in 1737 Boston, with the first St Patricks Day Parade.
It is quite likely that the newly landed Irish Americans, feeling a tad homesick decided that a celebration of their homeland and their patron saint was in order, and so after a day of church and solo prayer they wrapped up the day’s events with a visit to their local, where someone decided that they should loudly and proudly proclaim their Irish heritage to their fellow Americans. And of course, it did not hurt that the politicos of the day saw this as a great angle for getting out the ever-growing Irish vote in cities where the Irish population was continuing to grow. And so a parade was suggested, the political types endorsed it and the rest is as they say History.
Of course in their typical “embrace all that is fun” style Americans of both Irish and non-Irish backgrounds were quite eager to go all in on this day of shamrocks, leprechauns, festive green cookies and beer with of course a nod to the man for whom the day was named.
But St Patrick’s day really got its greatest boost from Ireland’s tourism board, who see the attraction for this day was rapidly spreading across the world, and determined to capitalize on it back in the 90s. Come to Ireland and celebrate St Paddy’s day in true Irish fashion. A concept dreamt up by a very well-paid group of savvy marketers I’m sure 🙂
Saint Patrick’s day is a day to celebrate, can you still celebrate sober?
So here we are today, around the world on March 17th thousands of people will raise a glass, bend a knee in prayer or sing a shanty to the Emerald Isle and all who love her.
But what about the sober? Can they still celebrate, Irish or not? After all, those shamrock-shaped green iced shortbread cookies are pretty darn good, and it is fun to sing along and try to keep track of who is singing which part of the Reel right?
So how can we participate and not get ‘shamrock faced”?
As it happens there are numerous outlets for those who choose not to indulge in the drink but still want to don their kiss me I’m Irish teeshirts.
Numerous outlets have signed on to help celebrants enjoy a Sober St Patrick’s day.
Take the official Sober St Patricks Day association for example, wrought from the founder’s loss this group aims to recapture some of the original sombre sober second thoughts reserved for Christian observance. https://www.soberstpatricksday.org
And trusted publications such as Psychology today even offer up suggestions for how you can participate and stay clean. https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/healing-addiction/202203/sober-st-patrick-s-day
We here at Searidge have a suggestion or two to share.
Here are a few tips for showing the world yer Éirinn go Brách on March 17th.
- If you plan to go to a St Patricks Day celebration remember to try to keep a nonalcoholic drink in your hand. If you look like you already have one people are less likely to offer you a drink.
- Be ready to have a plan to politely but firmly say no to alcohol. Most people are actually really supportive of those who are firm in their conviction to not indulge.
- Volunteer to be the designated driver, straight out of the gate this is one way to stay sober that without fail will be respected as a no-trespass and frankly, only those who you will want to limit your exposure to in life would be jerks enough to push a drink on you after that declaration.
- If you are at an event and it is becoming hard to not feel triggered you can remove yourself from the immediate circumstances, take a walk, or call a sober friend up and have a chat, odds are they are also facing a few trying circumstances themselves.
- Or better yet plan an event with sober friends which has no alcohol involved at all.
What else can you do?
- Watch all the Irish movies you can get your hands on! Netflix, HBO, and Amazon are all super sources of Irish fare. Personally, I LOVE waking Ned Divine and the Commitments, but there are so many more to enjoy.
- Make up some non-alcoholic beverages AKA “Mocktails” to share with your pals. If “Mocktails” are not your thing, you can make green milkshakes, had a cup of healthy antioxidant-filled Matcha tea, or maybe a plain glass of cool mint tea is more your style.
- Host a pot-o-gold potluck and invite everyone to bring along a dish that is a favourite in their family. Potlucks are a great way to learn about new cuisines and indulge the senses.
- Get outside. Weather permitting, of course, this is Canada after all, you can take a walk in a local park or walking trail, play a game of backyard rink hockey, catch a movie, or go for dinner somewhere special, however, pubs may not be the best place to grab a bite tonight.
- Stay home, indulge in a hot bath, and a good book, or invite friends over for a game night.
Whatever you choose to do, remember, just as with each experience in your new life, it takes a bit of effort on your part to step over the old ways and start new traditions. But perhaps the most important thing is to remain true to the commitment you have made to yourself to stay clean and sober it was not easy getting to where you are at, and unlike those people who need an outsourced reason to celebrate, you have a reason to celebrate every day.
You are strong, you are clean, you are sober and best of all you are still here for your friends and loved ones. Keep your eye on the prize this St Patrick’s day, and remember at the end of the day. In Ireland, they observe this day in so many more ways than just drinking themselves silly.
From all of us at Searidge Happy St. Patrick’s day to you and yours.
“May your heart be light and happy, May your smile be big and wide, And may your pockets always have a coin or two inside!”