Today is St. Patrick’s Day, Tuesday March 17th. Contrary to popular belief St. Patrick’s Day was not this past Saturday March 14th. Why does that matter? Maybe it doesn’t to you, but it does to me. St. Patrick’s Day is a celebration of Irish heritage, more specifically it is a celebration of Catholicism in Ireland. Having been raised Irish Catholic, that true meaning of the holiday was instilled in me. Religion aside, the holiday has been secularized to a large extent which still has large value in the celebration of Irish culture in the U.S. and around the world. When I was a kid, St. Patrick’s Day was a family day. My mother would make a special dinner and desserts to go with and it was a day to stand up and be proud of my heritage and the accomplishments of my family that emigrated to the U.S. through Ellis Island as poor Irish immigrants.
I’m as much for having a good time as anybody, hell I own a brewery, and you better believe I will be toasting my heritage if good form today. But, the image of the drunken Irishmen is a stereotype that was pushed on the Irish during the late 19th and early 20th centuries during a period of mass emigration to the U.S. In reality, Lenten restrictions of alcohol prohibition and fasting were lifted by the Catholic Church for the day in celebration of the patron saint of Ireland. Unfortunately, like most holidays, St. Patrick’s Day has become commercialized and has lost a lot of its meaning. Buying a $5 green t-shirt at Old Navy and heading out on the town on the Saturday prior to the actual holiday so that you can get hammered and nurse your hangover on a Sunday isn’t celebrating the heritage of the Irish. If anything it is celebrating the heritage of capitalism. While a dig at capitalism may sound hypocritical coming from a business owner, I think we can all agree that Renegade isn’t in the business of making a quick buck.
While commercialism will always reign supreme and green vomit will adorn our city sidewalks on the Saturday preceding St. Patrick’s Day from here until likely eternity, I simply hope to remind you about heritage. We all have it, we should all be proud of it and we should share it with one another when we can. It is this melding of different backgrounds that makes our country a unique place it many ways. So responsibly raise a pint of handcrafted beer today to the proud Irish and to all the wonderful cultures that surround you.