Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


March 18

I always love watching the news on St. Patrick’s Day. I love to see the marching parades, the Chicago River turned green, and even the White House fountain spewing up green water (Obama is from Chicago, you know!). But as with many Americanized holidays, we have taken a concept and commercialized it into something completely different from the original idea. The actual story of St. Patrick would make for a great Hollywood movie (Are you reading, JAMES CAMERON??)

Here's how the legend goes: Patrick was born in England...way back  in the year 387. At the time, the distant Roman province was only just learning of Christianity.  The Roman emperor Constantine had converted to the once banned faith a couple of decades earlier. The land was in constant threat from raiding barbarians, and at age 16, Patrick was kidnapped by Irish mercenaries. For the next six years, he lived as a slave somewhere in Ireland. While imprisoned as a shepherd, he learned to speak Gaelic.

It was during these lonely times, alone on the fields, that visions came to Patrick. Visions of wondrous things.  Our hero managed to escape as a castaway on a ship bound for England. Once he returned, he told the church of his plight on Ireland...being a slave, being whipped, etc.  But what the priests really enjoyed was the fact that he could speak both Latin and Gaelic.  They wanted him to return to Ireland and spread the word of god. Now they had a hero!

Most historians agree that Patrick was sent to Ireland to assist the fledging missionaries already there. Most legends will also tell you he arrived alone and single-handedly rid the island of snakes and converted 10,000 people into Catholics. Whomever you believe, we've got one helluva great holiday...with little to do with St. Patrick the man.  We wear green clothes (Not his color), eat corned beef and cabbage (A British dish) and pinch each other (completely American).

Just don't get me started about George Washington, cherry trees and lying!

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