You would think with an Irish name like Brendan I’d be pretty excited about St. Patrick’s Day.
At the risk of losing a few of my friends who are fanatical about such things, I am here to admit that March 17th is pretty far down on my favorites as far as days to celebrate.
I always thought that the whole St. Patrick’s day thing was kind of unfair and I have silently protested for years.
I’m sure you didn’t know that there was another Irish saint named Brendan. Of course you didn’t, he never got any credit or press. He was a great Irish explorer who, some think, may have discovered America long before Columbus.
A pretty big deal and, if accurate, should make Saint Brendan pretty famous. But no one has really researched to see if this might be true.
Instead, everyone just rallied around and instantly accepted the legend of Saint Patrick and how he drove a bunch of snakes out of Ireland. A pretty far-fetched story as far as I am concerned.
Sour grapes? Maybe.
Legend also has it that the reason that drinking became synonymous with Saint Patrick’s Day is because in the early days of the holiday there were many Irish people who felt guilty about having a special day for Saint Patrick and not for Saint Brendan, so they had to drown their guilt.
Of course I can’t prove this, just like I can’t prove that Saint Brendan discovered America but, hey, I don’t see anyone looking for proof about the whole snake thing.
Growing up, it was hard to face March 17th and the obvious injustice to my Saint namesake. I probably could have made a bigger deal of it but I kept quiet. Saint Patrick’s Day was a pretty big deal to my grandmother whose parents were born in Ireland. My older brother is named Patrick as well, so it was best to keep my feelings to myself.
Instead I went along with all of the traditions that came with this holiday. (The fact that people still had to go to work and school on Saint Patrick’s Day gave me some solace. If we were celebrating someone who had discovered America you can bet it would have been a day off for all.)
I wore the green ties and hats and buttons and had my picture taken with a token smile. I watched the parades on TV and ate the stringy corned beef and smelly cabbage.
Pretty much everyone enjoyed themselves but me. Deep in my heart I knew there was an injustice that needed to be corrected.
As I grew older and left home I protested against the tradition even though I had Irish blood. I wore any color but green on Saint Patrick’s Day. I consciously avoided forced expressions such as “Top O’ The morning to you” and I kept a clear distance from anything that resembled corned beef and cabbage. I often ordered out Chinese Food just to make a statement.
My close friends tell me that I should just let it go, accept things the way they are and just join in with the celebration since there isn’t much I can do about it anyway, but I disagree.
Over the last several years the legacy of Christopher Columbus has come under fire and a lot of folks are trying to get the Columbus Day holiday taken off the calendar.
This is the perfect opportunity for Saint Brendan to step in and take over. To kick both Christopher Columbus and Saint Patrick to the curb and claim what is rightfully his.
I am making it my mission to have Columbus Day now turned to Saint Brendan’s Day. Of course this will automatically eliminate Saint Patrick’s Day since the political correctness police will never allow two Irish holidays. (And I won’t accept a combination of the two like we did with Washington and Lincoln and call it “Irish Day”.)
I realize at first that a lot of people will be angry and my mission will be difficult and I expect a lot of pushback, but once they understand that things won’t really change they will eventually get on board. There will still be green to wear, stringy corned beef cabbage and smelly cabbage to eat and corny Irish slogans to recite after three too many beers and, best of all, it will all be part of a three day holiday weekend.
Eventually I know I will win.
If you are a Brendan, like me, who has been slogging through each Saint Patrick’s Day with that chip on your shoulder, I am asking for your support. It is time our namesake was finally recognized for what he might have done and be able to wake up one day each year, smile and shout:
“Happy Saint Brendan’s Day”