18 March 2009

Some Kinda Druid Dudes Lifting the Veil

St. Patrick's Day has never been one of my favorite of holidays, to be honest. Not that I have anything really against the holiday itself... any excuse for a party, right? But for the longest time, I wasn't even sure what it was supposed to be celebrating, apart from cheesy decorations and drinking to excess, neither of which particularly appealed to me. One might think to take refuge from the modern debauch by focusing more on what the holiday is ostensibly supposed to be celebrating, but the truth is, there's nary a bit in the St. Patrick story worth celebrating. St. Patrick was a missionary, well-known in legend for having driven the snakes out of Ireland.

And by snakes, I mean the native Druids.

The effects of missionary creep can be tragic enough, but it was doubly so in the case of the Druids, because they left nothing behind. The Druids remain an intractable mystery, and that's a goddamned shame. That culture is gone. A whole culture, gone, and with hardly a trace remaining apart from a few peat bog mummies and a handful of Roman writings (a source of limited value, to be sure).

Which is not to say that the Druids were a bunch of saints (so to speak); that's not the point, though I'll note that the human sacrifice business is heavily disputed. That's the tragedy, that we don't know. We just don't know. Too often, when an oral tradition died, so did the memory of it. They survive as figures of legend, especially in Irish literature, but we don't know anything about them.

But I suppose it was worth it in the end. After all, Christianity in Ireland has worked out so well for everyone involved. And Patrick got to return to the island that kidnapped him with the ultimate revenge.

Therefore, this St. Patrick's Day, I wore green and black, to mark the holiday in solidarity with the Druids. And I didn't touch a drop of alcohol all day. Though that was more due to the fact that we're out of whiskey in the house...

I mean, solidarity.


Anonymous said...

I still have flashbacks of my 6th grade catechism teacher giving us a photocopy of St. Patrick on 8 1/2 x 17 demanding that every inch of the paper be coloured green, and no one would be aloud to leave until theirs was done.

And we couldn't just scribble over the page with green crayon, either. No! every intricate little detail had to be done in different shades of green.

Not to mention that we'd coloured that same picture at least 3 times a year for the past 6 years! And most of the time it wasn't even St. Patrick's Day!

And they wonder why I left.

Aaron Golas said...

Crazy. And it's even crazier because St Patrick's color was blue!

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't expect an elementary school teacher to know that.