Today is Saint Patrick’s Day.
In a country where the immigrant Irish were, once upon a time, abused and discriminated against, being from the Emerald Isle is now celebrated. Whether it’s a testament to well-managed public relations or to the American capacity to absorb immigrants by converting them into components of Uncle Sam’s Stew, today it is fashionable to be Irish.
It’s also fashionable to be Mexican on Cinco de Mayo, which day has nothing in common with Saint Patrick’s Day except its celebration of ethnicity. That, and the mass consumption of Adult Beverages.
Yes, today is a day of serious drinkage. In Savannah, a city that hosts one of the largest Saint Patrick’s Day bashes in the country, the streets run with green beer and vomitus. The Mistress of Sarcasm, back when she used to live there, would always arrange her schedule so that she was out of town on Saint Patty’s Day, since she has never been (1) a drinker, (2) a fan of public drunkenness, or (3) comfortable in vomit-splashed streets. Can’t say I blame her, despite my enjoyment of the occasional tipple.
This is the day on which everyone claims to be Irish... seriously, or with tongue in cheek. Just like everyone claims to be Jewish on Tishah b’Av. Not.
And, speaking of Jewish, today is noteworthy in that it is one of a handful of minor fast days on the Jewish calendar. It’s Ta’anit Esther, commemorating the three days that Esther, the (secretly Jewish) Queen of Persia, fasted before seeking an audience with the King in order to plead her people’s cause and save them from annihilation. The story is found in the biblical Book of Esther, which we will read in its entirety this coming Saturday evening and Sunday morning - part of our observance of the holiday of Purim. And there will be some serious drinkage going on then, I can assure you.
But today, observant Jews will fast from sunrise to sunset. Unlike Yom Kippur and Tishah b’Av, which involve sundown-to sundown fasts lasting 25 hours or more, this one is - for lack of a better term - a half-fast.
So - at least in theory - the green beer will have to wait until tonight. But then why not have a Jewish-Irish feast? Corned beef and cabbage - on rye!