Instead of “St. Patrick’s Day,” go with the whole Pan Celtic Festival as Celtic Supremacy day/Celtic Druid Unity day/Celtic Ethnonationalist day/Celtic Redhead’s day.
It’s a religious holiday. It’s a Christian holiday. At one point it was (and in Ireland still is) a holy day of obligation in the Catholic Church. It’s a holiday commemorating the abolishment of Irelands ancestral faith replaced with the scam called Christianity. Its celebrations may have become more secular over the years, but at its origin, it’s a celebration of religious colonialism and the destruction of indigenous Celtic traditions inherent in the work of this man for whom it is named. Why, in the name of all that’s sacred, would I as a Heathen woman, celebrate that? Why would any Pagan?
St. Patrick is commonly celebrated for “driving the snakes out of Ireland.” What he really did was aggressively evangelize the native Irish. Through evangelizing, he turned them away from their ancestral traditions, their indigenous religions, and the worship of their indigenous Gods. He harassed and eventually drove away the Druids—the infamous “snakes.” Now granted, those who converted had a choice of course, and a great deal of the responsibility for abandoning their traditions lies with that generation that converted, but people like Patrick planted the seed, and provided the social and psychological pressure. As a devout Heathen, as someone working very hard to restore and rebuild the very faiths people like Patrick sundered, I would rather cut off an arm than put on the green for St. Patrick’s Day.
I’ve often wished that there were some diplomatic way to state my objections through decoration or dress but I haven’t found anything appropriate yet. Wearing a button with ‘St Patrick’s Day’ written on it, with a big X through it seems a little over the top, after all. Still, I adamantly don’t decorate and when people wish me Happy St. Paddy’s Day, I very politely thank them but inform them that I don’t celebrate it. If they ask why, it provides me with an opportunity to very briefly educate and raise awareness. This brings me to my next suggestion, which I hope some of you at least, will consider.
I’d like to propose that this year on St. Patrick’s Day, we each choose a God or Goddess of Pagan Ireland and celebrate Them. Pour out offerings, speak Their names, tell Their stories, write a prayer, write an article, hold a ritual. Write about Them in some way on your blogs. I’m Heathen and we usually don’t go outside the Norse Pantheon but for this, I shall very likely make an exception. By doing this, we’re spitting in the eye of St. Patrick and his Church’s agenda of wholesale Christianization. It’s a small thing, granted, but if we attend to the small things, the large have a way of handling themselves. By doing this we’re making a statement before our ancestors and Gods. We’re saying ‘we remember You. You’re not forgotten. Christianity did not win. We’re still here. And so are You.”
Irish Paganism was at one time a rich polytheistic tradition. To be fair, it had a tremendous influence on the Catholicism that initially developed there and it’s become almost cliché to point out how many Irish Gods and Goddesses suddenly received new life as saints. One of the things that so many contemporary Pagan traditions share is the idea that to speak and name a thing is an act of great power. So call to these Gods, Deities like the Morrigan, Manannan mac Lir, Aengus, Lugh, Airmed, Eiru, Boann and dozens and dozens more. Speak Their names. Tell Them that we still remember Them. That we are once more taking up the ancient contract with our Gods, with the land, with our dead. Tell Them that we shall see Their worship restored.
Party if you must; drink, celebrate, but celebrate that we are engaged in this glorious restoration. Celebrate that we are Pagans, Heathens, or Wiccans. Celebrate that we have come home to our ancestral ways however imperfectly (in the process of being) restored. But St. Patrick was an invader with an agenda of subjugation and religious destruction. Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? I don’t bloody well think so.
(((Saint Patrik)))’s day represents a kitschy and inauthentic commercialized Irishness. St. Patrick’s Day was not a major event traditionally, rather it was a religious procession. The genuine celebrations in Ireland were the traditional fairs that were held around Lughnasadh (Lammas) in every market town. Though due to modern agriculture no longer being community-focused, few remain.
The Puck Fair in Killorglin, Co. Kerry and the Ould Lammas Fair in Ballycastle, Co. Antrim are still going strong. These are a much more authentic representations of Irish communal celebration, having their roots in pre-Christian Celtic culture. Paddy’s Day in its modern incarnation is a pale stand-in for them at best. It wasn’t very long ago, maybe a few generations, that the ancient Celtic calendar of the cross-quarter festivals (Imbolc/St. Bridget’s Day, Bealtaine/May Day, Lughnasadh/Lammas and Samhain/Halloween) were still the most important to rural people.
The going theory on SPD in America is that it really took off in the 19th century as a way for East-Coast Irish political machines (Boss Tweed, etc.) to cement the loyalty of their ‘troops’. It had a much stronger political flavor in those days, when there was still bad blood between the Irish and the WASPs, than it does now. These days, it mostly just a bunch of public intoxication. (Although the Irish will remind you that you don’t really need any special holiday for that in their country. Over there, any day when you don’t have to work and you have money in your pocket, it’s a fine day for a bender!)