Happy Irish Heritage Day, I say to you all! Why that as opposed to the above salutations? Well, St. Paddy’s Day is a bit too Catholic for me and I gave that up years ago. And All Snakes Day? Well… That just doesn’t jive with me because it’s very confrontational. Well, that and it’s not very accurate. I prefer to find a middle ground. I’m not going to honor St. Patrick. He means little to me as a spiritual figure. At the same time, I’m not about to proselytize to everyone who wishes me a St. Patrick’s Day or go around screaming that the Snakes are back! Yes, I’m Pagan. Yes, I’m descended from the Irish diaspora. Yes I’m proud of who I am, my heritage, and my religion. But… I have to admit that the Irish flowing through my veins comes from a line of Christians for the past few hundred years. To be completely dismissive of a festival so important to Irish culture is to deny something important to my dear ancestors and that would be gravely disrespectful in my opinion. It was important to them, gave them strength, and I will honor that in my celebration of my heritage as a whole, the Pagan and the Christian.
I used to be very hardened against St. Patrick’s Day. I did the whole “All Snakes Day” thing and wore black for a few years. Then I read more about the holiday and the saint and it just didn’t feel right anymore. Religious division was a cause of The Troubles. If I really want to show respect for Ireland, then I should look to the land and the people there now – and they are working hard to unite North and South despite differences. Yes of course there are annoying, potentially dangerous Christians – but I would rather improve the bridges between us and the more understanding ones. My friends, nobody is going to force you to bow your heads to St. Patrick. If you want, pick a God of Ireland to honor, but don’t forget the ancestors who fought and died in part because of religion. Let us celebrate the culture as a whole, learn from the mistakes of all of our ancestors, and move forward. I think the High Kings and The Wolfe Tones put it best:
Sláinte my friends!