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St. Patrick's Day

Darren Fraser charges me with false solemnity: "Surely Christmas is the most egregious example of commercialized religion. I must disagree with you about St. Pat's Day, though (and I am not Catholic, either). If we were to pay homage to Ireland's favorite saint without the drinking and revelry, and opted, instead, to celebrate his legacy with prayer and decorum, we could very well be letting the snakes back in to Ireland. Why? What do we really know about St. Patrick (truly know, that is, without a Hollywood veneer applied), other than he brought Catholicism to Ireland and drove out the snakes (snakes in Ireland?? I doubt it)? How often has uniformed religion been imposed on a native population without some recrimination? I admit I do not know much about the particulars of St. Patrick's life, nor about his mission in Ireland. However, if history proves a reliable gauge, I would hazard that religion came to Ireland at a price.

So, perhaps celebrating March 17 with food, drink, music and song may be unseemly, but, to my thinking, it's an acceptable compromise between out and out debauchery and false solemnity".

My solemn reply: Christmas is a poor second, but I do not celebrate it with a Ho! Ho! Ho! I simply enjoy thinking about its significance. False miracles (I don't believe in them) have discredited many saints; there never were any snakes in Ireland. We do know a great deal about Saint Patrick. Actually Saint Palladius (with whom St. Pat is often confused) was the first bishop of Ireland, but, meeting with little success, he went to Scotland. We have a few writings by St. Patrick, notably his confession (a reply to his detractors) and several letters. There are several modern scholarly works about him. As for false solemnity, I just don't like mobs and I don't like noise.

Ronald Hilton - 3/15/02