Monday, March 16, 2009

Amateur Hour

St. Patrick's day always brings a conflicted tangle of emotions for me.

I am of Irish ancestry, as is evidenced by my pale skin and my remarkable ability to blush crimson right up to (and including) my scalp. There is no small amount of pride for me in St. Pat's day.

I was also adopted, and March 17, 1966 is the day I was brought home to live with my aunt and grandparents by my miscreant of a father. This brings feelings of gratitude that almost, but not entirely, make up for the underlying feeling of abandonment and lingering anger and resentment for the less fun bits of my growing-up years.

And today is the day when everyone likes to pretend that they are Irish.

And that is offensive to me.

A very wise friend once said to me that when I have the urge to say "this might piss some people off, but..." to shut the hell up (OK, she was way nicer than that, but still the message was there).

But you know what? This is one of those times I am going to forge ahead.

Why is it acceptable for people to dress up in green, get blind drunk on Guinness and stagger around trying to speak in a badly affected brogue?

For me, personally, that behavior is as offensive as someone wearing blackface would be to an African American.

It is insensitive. It is biased. It is mocking an ethnic heritage that is ancient and proud.

Please think of that tomorrow as you drink your green beer and eat your corned beef and cabbage. For some of us (OK, for me,) this is a high holy day to respect and honor an ancient, beautiful, proud heritage. Please don't ridicule it.


Laura D. said...

Love you baby :)

laughingatchaos said...

Green beer is an abomination.
Pouring orange dye into the Chicago river is wrong.
Eating corned beef makes me happy.
Cabbage makes me...not happy.
Pretending to be a Leprechaun tomorrow (I hate the schools for starting this effing tradition) makes my sons happy.
I am of very Irish heritage and I celebrate it. I celebrate it in the American tradition, because my ancestors came here for a new life, and by celebrating that way, I'm tipping my hat to them and the journey they made for a better life. Oh, and to escape arrest. That too. ;)

dolphyngyrl said...

That's funny, I've always found it insulting for entirely different reasons.


1. As if one requires a reason to drink Guiness

2. I've ALWAYS got my green on, thanks very much

3. I'm not Irish (mostly German and Scottish), but you've seen my son, right?

Kay said...

Good point.

In my Englsih/Scotish/French/Irish family SPD was always a day for green eggs and ham for breakfast and then stew for dinner.

Tomorrow I will wear my SPD tee shirt and then go home to edit papers and possibly blog.

Wild times eh?

MRMacrum said...

Being of Scottish and Irish background, I have no feelings one way or the other about St Patricks Day. It's an excuse for drinkers to drink. It's an excuse for paraders to parade. Go for it I say.

I will say though, my mom's side were Orangemen of Ireland. In our house, wearing orange was the preferred color on St.Paddies Day. And the people who understood the implied slap did not take it kindly.

Heritage, especially Irish heritage, is not all that much to be proud of in many ways. I recognize it, but don't revel in it.

I come from ancestors both of who were conquered and exploited by England. Rather than stay and continue to live under England's thumb, they left the British Isles in the early 1800s. At this point my only connection there is my name. 8 to 10 generations is long enough to dilute the influence in my mind.

CaroleMcDonnell said...

Wow, I've never really thought of it as mocking. In NY, it's always been seen as kind of honoring the Irish. The NY Irish folks never seemed to have any trouble with it. From grade whatever to high school there was always this wearing of the green. I think the Irish themselves might have fostered this idea. Not sure, though. Plus, so many people have Irish-ancestry in the US.

Th' Rev said...

Ah...the emerald.Today I will wear my kilt , listen to Flogging Molly , dropkick murphy's , the dubliners and a bit of the old Thin Lizzy.
My English Mom never understood my affinity to Ireland.
Happy SPD Dawn.:) hates word verification said...

Wow... I've never seen it as mocking either.

I always thought it as honoring.

Hey, be glad you have a day.

There isn't crap for Portuguese/Cape Verdian people. LOLOL

Chef Cthulhu said...

Dad's 1/4 Irish, makes me 1/8. He feels a huge, HUGE affinity. He belongs to the Ancient Order of Hiberneans in Newport, he's the drum major for their pipe band, he's quite immersed. I feel none of that - not out of any negativity, I just don't. Living close to my mother's parents, who are Lebanese Maronite, I had a much greater arabic exposure in my youth. We both feel pretty much the same, though - that poseurs suck; I don't go out of my way to celebrate SPD - I'll go to a celebration if invited, but otherwise it would feel dishonest.

Here in Suffolk County, they have "Evacuation Day" to commemorate the evacuation of the British from Boston in 1776. Much more pertinent in name, but really just an excuse to give everyone SPD off. Don't know what the over/under is on school busdrivers who won't be making their runs tomorrow.

Happy St. Patrick's Day; it's good to see people take the meaning of a holiday to heart and I hope it turns out to be all that you want it to.

CaroleMcDonnell said...

Hi Dawn:

I had to smile. A friend just emailed me to say that some guy is guilting her by saying she isn't acknowledging the Irish. But she's Irish-protestant. So there's all this business about what is a true Irishman. I mean, I had an almost boyfriend back in the day whose father used to say "There is no such thing as a protestant Irishman." So my friend is thinking: so should I acknowledge Catholic Irishmen when her ancestors were fierce Anglo-Irish protestants?

Fia said...

At this point, I just wish people would quit mixing up the Scots and the Irish. I'm both -- well, you know that -- and I know the difference, but people who aren't either don't seem to have a clue. Genetically they're no longer any different than the English, but culturally, there is a difference.

The Today Show today had folks in Scottish tartan kilts instead of traditionally solid-colored ones, Scottish pipers instead of uillean pipers, and of all things, Italian flags all over the place. The point, if there ever was one beyond an excuse to get drunk (which I personally am taking advantage of) is completely being missed.

A Spot of T said...

I don't ever celebrate the day but Happy St. Patricks day to you :o) said...

Maureen and Meghan, here. We're pretty damned Irish (though not through and through). We drink Beamish. All the time, all the time.

msladydeborah said...


Many people are totally ignorant about St. Patrick.
I have shared the story with people I work with and they are often surprised and the meaning of the day.

It is unfortunate that we do not take time to learn about each other's cultures and customs.

There is a large Catholic block in my family. My great grandmother was half Irish and half AA. She made doubly sure that everyone understood the importance of St. Patrick's Day.

So I can appreciate how you feel on the subject.

Queenie said...

I'm with you on this one! I'm 1/2 Kiley, 1/2 Whalen, and 100 percent Irish. You don't see me dancing to Kwanza? Or eating matzo at seder? If I thought people were making fun of my heart, my soul, my Celticness, I'd be pissed. But I think it is the one day they can DREAM to be as great and superior as we micks.