As saints go, possibly only St. Valentine is more thoroughly integrated into American pop culture than
Though their stories are rote to the faithful, they are perhaps less well known to the public at large. St. Valentine, whose feast day we celebrated on Feb. 14 with the exchange of cards and gifts among couples, was a priest (though he is one of those saints who is difficult to thoroughly authenticate) who went to his death for marrying Christian couples in violation of Roman law. Our observance of St. Valentine Day as a celebration of couple hood, however lighthearted, kind of makes sense.
St. Patrick is remembered for having been a slave in
While there were probably never snakes in Ireland — it is pretty far north for most reptiles — the idea of conversion and driving out what snakes represent in the Bible go hand in hand.
Strangely, from this story we get the modern American popular culture tradition of drinking beer. The oddity of it comes into sharper focus when it's known that the tradition in Ireland on St. Patrick Day generally involves going to church.
No matter. In the U.S., St. Patrick Day is more of a celebration of Irish heritage and culture as it manifests itself on this side of the Atlantic. Like many immigrant groups, the Irish who moved to America came for the opportunities and to get away from a bad situation. Remembering the happy traditions of the old world is fun, and what better a day to do it than on the feast day of your nation's patron saint?
It is unfortunate that other ethnic holidays aren't as widely observed, though there is a good deal of Italian pride expressed on
There is an unsavory side to any of these festive observances, being that the drink part of eat, drink and be merry sometimes gets out of hand. This is a problem on many levels, but especially when a reveler who has had too much gets behind the wheel of a car. As has become something of a law enforcement custom on St. Patrick Day,