This is old news by now, but Guinness and several other beer companies boycotted this year’s New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade over the longstanding fight about allowing “GLBTQ” people to march in the parade *as GLBTQ* proponents, and as if they don’t have enough events and parades to participate in.
This debate, especially with the addition of the beer controversy gets to the heart of “St. Patrick’s Day.” As I say every year, half-serious/half-joking, “I oppose the secularization of St. Patrick’s Day.”
The problem is that St. Patrick’s Day has become a festival of “Irishness” and nothing at all about sanctity. We celebrate a Saint who is credited with driving the “snakes” (demons, and while many point out that snakes are not indigenous to Ireland, snake-worship was part of the Druidic religion) out of Ireland by promoting leprechauns. We celebrate a Saint who taught the trinity using the example of a three-leaf shamrocks by promoting four-leaf clovers. We use the “luck of the Irish,” a term originally meant ironically like “Murphy’s Law” as actual “luck.”
Now we have Guinness Beer, a company long associated with St. Patrick’s Day because it’s Irish, a company that started the eponymous Book of World Records to provide trivia for guys to argue about in bars, and a company that was founded by a bloody Protestant!!!
We rarely buy beer, usually only for visiting in-laws or for cooking, and before she found out she was allergic to wheat, the only beer my wife ever drank was Killian’s. A year ago, before we left for my surgery in Charleston, I bought a box of Killian’s for my father-in-law, and it’s still sitting in our laundry room unopened. However, we refused to ever buy anything from Guinness about 10 years ago when we saw an ad on TV where they depicted St. Patrick getting drunk in a bar and flirting with scantily-clad women on his knee.
Then there was the year in Columbia when we were trying to go to St. Joseph’s Day Mass at St. Joseph’s Church but were late for Mass because traffic was diverted for a city St. Patrick’s Parade, and parade-goers were using the church’s parking lot! People complain about children’s candy on Easter and All Saint’s Eve (“Halloween”), or candy and presents on Christmas. But the debauchery associated with St. Patrick’s Day, especially as it usually falls in the middle of Great Fast, has long been a scandal to me. Feasting and celebrating is one thing. Getting drunk and acting lewd (or worse) is another.
Things would improve in our culture if Catholics went back to celebrating Feasts with actual Eucharistic Processions and gave up on these secular parades altogether. Maybe if we gave half the attention to praying the Office and attending Mass that we do to planning and fighting over secular parades, Christmas trees, etc., we would both have a more fulfilling celebration of holidays and see genuine improvement in society.