Bob and Steve, here. We’ve been thinking about St. Patrick’s Day.
Ahhh, St. Patty’s Day. A day known for many things, such as: green beer; shamrocks; leprechauns; corn beef and cabbage; snakes and funny sticks (otherwise known as Shillelaghs); and, even more green beer.
As we all know, St. Patrick was born to a pious and wealthy British family about the year 385. When he was fourteen or so, he was captured and sold as a slave in Ireland and forced to tend sheep. Ireland at that time was predominantly populated by pagans (think Hollywood, but more civilized), and Druids (think Ivy League elite, but less agnostic). During this time of captivity, Patrick turned to God and was blessed with a deep and abiding faith. After his escape from Ireland, he entered the priesthood, ultimately returning to Ireland to spend the rest of his life converting souls, ultimately as bishop.
St. Patrick’s Day also brings with it the welcome inevitability of Spring. The vibrant Kelly green reminds us of new growth, in stark contrast to the cold greys and browns of winter. Green is such a happy color – what better way to celebrate it than to put beer in it.
And about those snakes- certainly they are ideally suited for St. Patrick’s Day in that they’re already on the ground even without being inebriated. We’ve done quite a bit of research on the topic of St. Patrick banishing the snakes from Ireland. Some naturalists claim that Ireland never had snakes to begin with. They base this on “biogeography” and comparisons with “similar ecosystems”. That’s all well and good, but we’ve adopted our preferred method of intrinsic hyperbolistic factification. Employing this method, we determined that the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day itself crowded the snakes out of Ireland; there wasn’t enough room on the ground for both inebriated Irishmen and snakes. So the snakes left to find greener pastures and more suitable environs to form the ABA¹.
One thing’s for sure, St. Patrick became beloved for ridding Ireland of pests. This got us to thinking, “if only we could get St. Patrick to wield his pest-ridding powers in modern times…” Stink bugs – gone! Reality TV – poof! Planned Parenthood – shuttered! Terrorist – converted! Hollywood – same! Email spammers – transformed into sporks (useful as neither spoon nor fork.) Speed cameras – instantly vaporized! Relativism – destroyed, absolutely! Sporks – banished to the 3rd circle of hell where their handle-snapping pointlessness can never again terrorize 2nd graders the world around.
As for Shamrocks, some of you might have the misunderstanding that these are pretend rocks. Not so. Nor are they distant relatives of the ShamWow! product as seen only on TV. Shamrocks are the ubiquitous three-leafed plant used by St. Patrick to teach the dogma of the blessed Trinity.
Shillelagh is a word we’ve heard but never spelled in our lives, and probably never will again. For those not familiar with this word, it rhymes with ukulele and is derived from an ancient Irish word meaning “I’m so inebriated I can’t speak clearly”. If we find a sober Irishmen, we’ll ask him for a better translation. Nowadays, Shillelagh refers to walking sticks and is closely associated with all things Irish. Shillelaghs are also known to have been used as a gentlemanly way to settle disagreements. We think they should be distributed to all members of Congress.
And lastly, we come to corned beef and cabbage. Despite its strong connection with St. Patrick’s Day, corned beef and cabbage is not a specifically Irish dish. In fact, we haven’t found anyone who will stand up and take credit for it, other than the Scots who are looking for anything to substitute for Haggis. Acting on our mission to probe the great mysteries of life and leave our readers better educated before starting than after finishing our articles, we set about investigating what, in fact, is corned beef? Certainly it’s not corn. Is it beef? That remains unknown. What we have established is that corned beef actually traces its heritage to the French. Following the Renaissance, French epicures scoured the continent and appropriated all of the foods that were palatable. Whatever was left was divided primarily among the British Isles. Thus corned beef was relegated to the Irish, Haggis to the Scots, and everything else boiled to the Brits. We don’t know how to explain the German preparation of floating bits of meat in aspic, but it does shed light in their habit of waging war on their neighbors.
There you have it. Two engineer’s analysis of St. Patrick’s Day. If we took a wee bit too much liberty with the stereotypes of our Irish brethren, it’s with a nod to the well-known trait of those from the Green Isle to have a fine sense of humor. And whatever else the malt beverage marketing departments might have us believe, St. Patrick’s Day serves to remind us that all good things come from God. In this case, it’s the celebration of a great saint without whose heroic efforts we wouldn’t have the beautiful contributions of a Christian Ireland. And green beer isn’t bad either.
- American Bar Association