Even St. Patrick Wasn’t Irish, So Everyone Should Celebrate
Every year on March 17, millions of people across the country celebrate St. Patrick's Day. They wear the green, throw back their beers, and claim to be Irish whether they really are or not. Throughout my life, I have joined right in. I guess in part that is because of my heritage with my ancestors, who had last names such as Haggerty, Finnegan, and Gainer. In some ways, it is largely because I attended the University of Notre Dame for seven years, where it is nearly impossible to not feel Irish. But, most of all, it is probably for the same reason as most people --- St. Patrick's Day at its core is just downright a lot of fun. So, this year, I asked myself why St. Patrick's Day is so much fun and why did it become the day among all others where people dress up, drink green beer, and carry on. I think the answer lies in the nature of Irishmen themselves. Before I explain further, this may be a good place to point out that St. Patrick himself was not Irish. "What?!" you may say. That's right. He was born in England and later sold into slavery in Ireland. Ultimately, he brought the teachings of the Catholic Church to Ireland and became the Patron Saint of Ireland. But, there are many Patron Saints of many countries and many causes. I am willing to bet that most people can't name more than five Patron Saints and, if they can, they certainly can't name the date of their feast day each year. So then, why all of the hoopla on St. Patrick's Day? Back to the Irish themselves. When Irish immigrants began increasing in number in America, they looked for a way to celebrate their heritage. What better way to do it than to celebrate on the day of their country's Patron Saint. But again, lots of countries have Patron Saints, so why did seemingly everyone else join in? Quite simply, the Irish have personalities unlike anyone else. The Irish make sure that there is a party and when they do they are the life of the party. They have personalities that draw us to them. It helps explain why John F. Kennedy
was elected President, it helps explain why we laugh at Bill Murray, and it helps explain why Regis Philbin had such a successful run on television. The Irish tend to have personalities bigger than the room they are standing in. They tend to tell better stories. They tend to be able to drink more, smoke more, and stay out later, yet still be able to beat the other guy the next morning. To put it quite simply, they live life to the fullest. So, if for one day each year, we join the party, and in some cases, maybe even are the life of it, so be it. It may not have started as our party. Many may not even be Irish. But, then again, heck, neither was St. Patrick. So, have a good time being Irish, be careful, and .... May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.