Religion is the cornerstone of so many people’s lives here in America that it is hard to ignore the constant battle between the secular portions of the country and the religious. While not holding the vast members it once held in the past, the Catholic Church is still one of the forerunners of religious influence. Since most of the holiday’s we celebrate trace back to Catholic origins, it’s not hard to understand why they get so upset about the gradual taking-over of those holidays as mere drunken celebrations. Take Saint Patrick’s Day and the hoard of revelers in crazy Irish tshirts for example.
Saint Patrick’s Day has been celebrated since before the 16th century, and has been a religious holiday since the very beginning. Saint Patrick was actually a monk who brought Christianity to the pagans of Ireland. Ireland is predominantly Catholic now because of Saint Patrick’s efforts, so it is understandable that the Catholic Church holds him in enough esteem to celebrate his life. Holding him in such high regards, how could they possibly be happy about the crazy Irish tee shirts and behavior of the youth?
It was a slow and gradual change, but St. Patrick’s Day is fully considered a day in which to gather with friends and drink heavily. Perhaps national stereotypes played a roll as did media influence, but no one sees St. Patrick’s Day merely as a religious holiday any longer. If you were to ask most young people what St. Patrick’s Day is all about, they would most likely give a hoot and a laugh before they told you it was about whiskey, green beer, and Irish drinking t shirts.
The damage is pretty irrevocable at this point, I’m afraid. The church can put up a weak defense against the partiers on the day of the Holiday but there is not much more they can do than that. I have seen church members literally get booed out of a bar by a few hundred young people in Irish party tees as they try to hand out fliers that inform about the true meaning of the holiday. While I am not a Catholic myself, I can’t help but feel sorry for the people who just want to take St. Patrick’s Day back to its roots.
When you go out this Saint Patrick’s Day in your Irish pride t-shirts, as I’m sure you will be, take a minute and reflect on the history of the holiday. I’m not asking from a religious standpoint, but rather from a historical one. It’s important for us to understand why we do the things we do, and they only way you’re going to do that is if you actually educate yourself. All it takes is a simple search on the Internet to learn all you need to know. If you’re going to celebrate, you should at least know why.