Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Holiday of Misattribution

I love the Irish. I love the people (though admittedly the ones I know are mostly teenaged boys named Neil—I'm serious), I love their accents *swoon *. I love some of their authors, their Guinness... But this guy named Pat? Not so much. If I were a small, festive country, I think I might have chosen a different holiday to export. Why?


Not a problem. My first real exposure to St. Patrick's day was the “Kiss me” stuff, and wearing green or you'd get pinched (a Tart can hardly take issue with an excuse for goosing). And when I was younger, a holiday that was all about drinking was a-okay. El Cinco de Mayo, for instance—pass me the tequilla!

While that's not something I am so into anymore, I can hardly fault people with wanting a break from Lent, which according to [History Undressed] this fabuloulously titled blog, it was—a day during a 40 day fast when people got to have a party and drink a little... okay by me.

So what's my problem?


But the story goes, that St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland. You know what he actually drove out? Pagans. He was sainted for all his religious conversion. He's an interesting guy, and being stolen into slavery, escaping, and then going back to where he was enslaved is a pretty cool tale, but I just can't get on board with anything that smells of Inquisition. [Even if NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!]

Now I solidly believe this guy believed he was doing the right thing (saving souls, in his mind). And he was SMART (incorporating things like the shamrock into symbolism for the holy trinity--it had previously been sacred to the DRUIDS). But in THIS day and age, I feel like we are obliged to recognize that as manipulation. It's like Christmas falling on December 25 because it was already a Pagan holiday—taking and absorbing the symbols of another culture/religion to 'prove' something ends up killing the original meaning and a piece of cultural history gets lost. NOT OKAY.  Excellent marketing.  BAD behavior.  I would rather remember that.

Tart Recommendation

I'm not saying don't celebrate. I think you should. I'm just saying be mindful of what really went on, and take a minute to acknowledge lives and homes lost by people unwilling to lightly change their beliefs, and to note even those who changed did so under false pretenses--they were misinformed.  Though it is an interesting colorful piece of the past, it is not something we should ever aspire toward in the future.

Instead we should just get naked and practice tolerance of all people in their current cultures--don't try to change them.  Love them for who they are. Because the world is much richer that way.

And while you are at it, why don't you misattribute a couple times today--that seems to be what the day is really about.


Jan Morrison said...

You're on. Did you know that St. Brighid and her day (Feb.2 - yep same as Groundhog Day - talk about taking over!) was taken over. Brighid was a fierce and marvelous Celtic female deity? Yep - and they caught her on their trinity horns too. To be quite fair though, all religions co-opt the going holy guys and holy days so they can wiggle in there and I'm sure the Celts and the Druids were no exception. I love that on MY BIRTHDAY - DECEMBER 21st there are holidays in and around for every single religion. That's what being born on a solstice will do for ya!
My best friend and I celebrate this day by taking off work and going for an adventure - that'll make two for this week - I feel some Christian guilt arising - no problemo - I'm a Buddhist and we don't do guilt!

Travis Prinzi said...

Mind a little devil's advocate? (Ironic term, given the content...)

Here's what I see as the fundamental problem with this way of thinking: In order to create this world where everyone can believe what they want, you have to tell entire groups of people that they can no longer believe what they want. You're saying, "You can't actually believe that Jesus was sent for the healing and redemption of the whole world." I mean, that's not just some privately-held belief. It's the crux of the faith.

I'm entirely against forced conversion, and if St. Patrick engaged in that whatsoever, then we have a problem. But if St. Patrick came and preached a message and used the symbols of the culture to communicate that message, the culture itself was welcome to accept it or reject it on its own merits. No forced conversion should ever be allowed, but the exchange of ideas and beliefs, which just might lead to conversion from one belief to another, should always be allowed.

Watery Tart said...

Jan- I'm not surprised to hear about St. Brighid--and I am ALMOST on the other solstice (3rd day of summer)-- but that one is near NO holidays, except father's day... I'm sure it's true EVERYONE does it, but I don't have to like it, yes? (love the Buddhist no guilt thing... so sensible, those Buddhists...)

Travis, you didn't go by the name Wendell in a former life did you? (friend of mine from college used to do that to me) I TOTALLY get the irony, really i do. I have HEARD St. Pat DID engage in the forceful conversion, but I heard it verbally and don't know the original source, so can't stake a claim in the accuracy--neither of the places I read up on went that far. I tend to not even like someone showing up at my door to TALK to me about it.

My dad's family are Seventh Day Adventists as go to poor countries to build schools and hospitals--THAT is an approach I can get behind... set a good example, provide some resources. In exchange someone might come listen to what you have to say...

But it seems to me MANY groups feel it is their obligation to SAVE many, and the tactics when someone feels so compelled cross a lot of lines.

Andy Leigh said...

OOoooo. I know this topic. As someone who was an Avid (with a capital 'A') Pagan before succumbing to agnosticism, I've had plenty of head-banging-on-the-wall moments due to Christian holidays and their blatant disregard for their roots as they cry out 'Keep the CHRIST in CHRISTMAS!' and what have you.

Now I'm over it, and enjoy being able to point out all the icons and symbols that connect all religions. :)

Not Hannah said...

WT, I love you. I had a long comment about progress and faith and everybody being free to be you and me, but I think I'll just go with the first sentiment.

Watery Tart said...

Andy, When I first heard all this, I was sort of in a 'goddess phase' and it angered me a lot more than it does now, so I totally hear you. I like your approach of the connectivity between the many. Like his holiness the Dali Lama says, ANY religion can raise a fabulous person, because they all have the same basic foundation. I am not ONE faith (though I have trouble with the big man in the sky stuff) but I AM spiritual, so connection speaks to me quite clearly.

NotHannah-I love you too!

Rayna M. Iyer said...

I totally agree with you. The only think that really matters is whether you are a good human being, which I define as someone who doesn't intentially harm someone else, and tries to help when they can. I'm not big on all this me and you stuff.

Marjorie said...

I also don't believe in the old man on the throne in the sky. God to me isn't so much a person as in the driving force that shaped the universe. But I DO believe that force is to some extent conscious and multifaceted. But if we as humans could understand God then we would be superhuman and more like gods ourselves. I DO think that is possible too. :)

M.J. Nicholls said...

Agree with this very much. I spend Valentine's Day mindful of the blood that was spilled at the massacre, or perform a few gangland killings myself. :)

Most religious holidays are an excuse to get plastered. Certainly over here they are. I picture God as a very cheery drunk guy with a red nose, yelling "You're my best mate, I love you!"

Watery Tart said...

Natasha-I agree... treat people well... ought to cover it.

Marjorie--my thought on a higher consciousness is a 'collective' rather than a singular thinking entity (I think en masse, we can have effect, individually, only on a small scale), but mostly we seem to look at it about the same.

Mark *snort* Yay for holiday massecres then, eh? Your description of 'god' sounds very much like Buddha (who is not God to the Buddhists--I don't remember if their god has a human form)--but the cheery happy fat guy... "Cheers! Hugs all around!" Yup... I can appreciate him...

B. Miller said...

I love St. Patrick's Day mainly for the partying I've done with friends over the years, and the over-the-top celebrations some cities like Chicago and Boston have. It seems like so many holidays are ripoffs of other holidays. Thanks for posting this, Hart.

Jan Morrison said...

Dearest Tartlett - pardon me if this is a repeat but could you send me your mailing address for your lovely photo? My email address is mobudgeATnsDOTsympaticoDOTca And then could you ditch this comment because I'm scared of Wendell who I realize isn't scary or Wendell but there you go!

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I'll raise a Guinness to tolerance! :)