Saturday, February 23, 2013

My Thoughts on St. Patrick's Day

I've been trying to decide which holidays to decorate for and which days not to decorate. It's actually a silly thing to consume my brain, but it is. My dilemma lies mostly in St. Patrick's Day. It's become such a drinking holiday in the US, that I struggle with celebrating it. I don't want to celebrate a day of lewd and unbecoming behavior. I'm not a believer in the "party all you want and today only it's okay" mentality. Really? Do Christians buy that garbage? That they can sin all they want on one day and not the next? It helps that my friend Rita likes to points out the irony that public schools love St Patty's Day, but downplay Easter. So I did some research. And analyzed my own heart. My thought are, if I'm going to exonerate St. Valentine, for any of his rumored actions and fully embrace and celebrate his life, I should do the same for St. Patrick. I think they were both good men, even if they were a little misguided in their desires to convert the world to Catholicism. Forced conversion is no conversion, which is why most Celts and Wiccans hate St. Patrick.

The irony of all this drunkenness is that until recently, bars in Ireland closed for St. Patrick's Day. And Ireland isn't even the world's most imbibed nation. The Czech Republic is. It doesn't make any sense why March 17 is so renowned for partying. I guess I could blame misguided Catholics who like to undo everything they gained from Lent (note that I did not say ALL Catholics. I have dear Catholic friends. They don't party stupidly on March 17th). Or I could blame commercialism. Blame probably falls mostly there. But any way you look at it, I think we stupid Americans have once again messed up a perfect holiday to reflect on Truth.

And I know that many Christian holidays were put into place to cover up pagan holidays. No, I'm not happy about it. That's the real reason we HAVE Valentine's Day and St Patrick's Day. And why Christmas is in December and not in the spring: So that Christians who were Pagans could keep their holidays. But that doesn't mean there weren't reasons to celebrate, for instance, the coming of spring. the dilemma lies in separating truth from falsehood. Some Celtic beliefs have truth. Some, not so much. Little men who like to play tricks? I'm struggling with finding truth in that idea.

And is it right to celebrate Ireland when I'm not even Irish? I don't celebrate anything to honor my predominantly British heritage. So if I don't drink and I'm not Irish, and I don't worship any Pagan god, why should I celebrate?

With all of these questions in my head, I've been doing a lot of thinking.

You know the shamrock? It traditionally had 3 leaves, not 4. St. Patrick supposedly used it to teach the Irish. 3 petals, one plant. The Trinity. 3 Gods form one Godhead. I won't get into any Nicene Creed discussions, although that is the direction my brain takes on any discussion of the trinity. I can focus on that.

How about The Celtic knot? It began to appear about the time of St Patrick (although there's no connection made to him) and symbolized that there is no beginning or end. Sometimes it represents the soul, sometimes earth, and sometimes the Trinity, depending on its shape.

And green is the symbol of new birth and nature. Its symbolic of things whole and healing. Yes, it's roots are pagan, but I'm okay with that.

But what about the rainbow? It's traditionally linked to pots of gold which are traditionally linked to little Irish men. But the rainbow is such a happy symbol of promise, I don't want to discredit it! To me, rainbows mean promises and covenants and baptism. But is that putting a symbol where it doesn't exist? And what about the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow... Doesn't it serve as a symbol of hard work for something that seemed unattainable?

But little fairies... It's not that I am anti-fairy. In fact, that was my favorite literature topic as a kid. I don't think we should be so judgmental and ruin everything for our kids. Imagination is great. But should I celebrate them? I struggle with Santa and the tooth fairy! At least there's symbolism and good will in Santa. So where's the line?

I guess at the end of the day, St. Patrick's Day is about sharing the gospel like St Patrick did (only not so forcefully and obstinately), about faith and hope in things unseen, and about the beginnings of new life. So in all of my confusion, I guess that's what I can hold on to. I guess that is my truth.

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