St. Pat’s Aftermath: Musings on Celebrations and Why the Excess


I apologize, it’s after the day and I am writing about it. Should have been done before, right? Well I never do things in a way that anyone expects, so why start now? Today I walk the streets of Portland, OR and see the aftermath of trashed pubs and taverns the next day. It’s the Merican St. Pat’s ideal recovery day. Fuzzy heads and yeah, our ever present rain. We’ve had 7 days of sun in 3 months, that’ll get anyone to drink.

Okay, so yes Dublin of course goes nuts for St. Pat’s with celebrations. It’s expected. But Irish traditions are much watered and mashed up here in the States, commercialized and legend-ized. It’s the the way of the great migrations, where many European traditions got mashed-up in Americana. Then commercialized by Hallmark with silly St. Pat’s cards like St. Valentines cards. Funny thing is, many of the people celebrating are Protestant, and some Non-Religious. It’s an excuse for beer carnage, and why do they dye it green? Really? Because people just get nuts for an excuse to party.

I guess we make it fun for the kids too. That silly Leprechaun figure on decorations. It’s a Saints day and while the population here on the west coast of the US is high in the Catholic numbers, everyone celebrates it. Any excuse for a celebration right? My mum has the Irish and Scots on her side. We have Collums/McCollums and Caffees from one of the earliest migrations in the States from the fair green isle. Thing is they were protestant, not Anglican that also recognize the Saint or Catholic so what the heck. Not many records survived, but most of the family is not Catholic, or they quickly converted here in the North Carolinas where many Irish and Scots settled and intermarried. So why celebrate the day? Mum would cook corned beef on the day and boil cabbage. I was confused a bit as a child because well, Saints were not really a thing with the religion we supposedly had. But I always thought anyone who did good deeds deserved recognition, right? So how did the traditions get so mixed in here in the States, and what were they really is what my meandering brain wondered while looking at the party aftermath on the streets?

In Ireland, it is a public holiday. You are encouraged to speak Irish more.  Modern traditions include a drink called “Drowning the Shamrock”, the placing of a Shamrock sprig at the bottom of glass and filling with beer or some whiskey. After it’s wet, it’s either drunk or tossed over shoulder for good luck. Funny, I always thought that the church frowned on such superstitions, but the Irish always seem to mix that little pagan belief in, don’t they? It’s the marking of the day the man died, it’s his feast day. So really it is all about celebration. Also, why would the Irish waste a drop of alcohol?

And food then there’s the food. Many Irish traditional foods are consumed, modernized of course. In the States it’s mostly corned beef and Irish Stew. Some bake soda bread, a particular favorite of mine. Some more modern foods are Guiness Treacle, potato cakes, mussels, lamb, Guinness braised meats pork and beef, colcannon. So if you are not too ingrained in the the yearly massive party downtown, creating a party with friends and having a traditional Irish spread might be more appealing. After talk to anyone on the street that has been here for a few generations and someone is Irish in the family. The migrations happened in the millions over time. So next year plan for a more intimate celebration with friends and family instead. Oh, and don’t forget the cabbage.


St. Patricks Parades Around The World

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