St Patrick is the most famous Irishman in the world, and almost as famous for not actually being Irish. But that’s not the problem. The problem is how St Patrick the man is utterly unsuitable for St Patrick’s the day. As a Catholic saint he preaches modesty, celibacy, and quiet self-contemplation. That’s as opposite to St Patrick’s Day as you can get without raising the demon prince Kcirtap, the magentan demon of eternal sobriety.
The only thing Saint Patrick has in common with a partying man is the urge to plunge snakes into wetness, but with him it’s apocryphal instead of an analogy. And the only people to get laid by apocrypha are particularly heretical versions of Jesus. That’s why we’re looking at an Irish folk hero more in tune with modern celebrations. Fionn mac Cumhaill, anglicized as Finn McCool, which sounds like a superhero powered entirely by extreme Irishness. Which is pretty much what he was.
This mythical hunter-warrior literally defined modern Ireland, carving out bays with his feet while fighting foreign giants in his immense warrior form. He built the Giant’s Causeway because he wanted to punch a Scotsman, and created the Isle of Man when he threw a piece of the country at him and missed. Why are we celebrating an old man who tuts over masturbation when we had a drunken Pacific Rim? Behold the lessons of Fionn:
Enjoy Being Awesome
Fionn celebrated his amazing abilities as a hunter and warrior, which allowed him to feast, drink, and survive without being brutally murdered. We all have that every single day. We’ve outwitted every warrior, prince, and emperor in history by being born into a time of unparalleled luxury. Our modern bar shelves are stocked beyond the dreams of Caesars, and we know for a fact that we won’t be murdered by Vikings. Even Irish people couldn’t say that for most of history. St Patrick’s is a day to sit back and revel in it.
Enjoy Feeling Awesome
Some people say that Fionn isn’t a good role model because his behavior was based on being giant, all-knowing, and unnaturally excellent at anything the decided to do. Those people have never felt what it’s like to be drunk. Luckily, St Patrick’s Day is the perfect time to learn.
Do Your Own Work
The poet Finnegas spent seven years catching the Salmon of Wisdom, a mythical fish which contained all the knowledge in the world. Apart from “what fishing hooks look like,”apparently. He then set his young apprentice Fionn to cook it, because being stupidly lazy in the first place is a big part of taking seven years to outwit a fish to gain knowledge.
Fionn honestly cooked the fish for Finnegas, instead of giving him the fish finger by taking the fish’s wisdom, but burned his thumb on the sizzling flesh. He automatically stuck this thumb in his mouth and immediately gained all the knowledge of the world. Never mind the burn on Fionn’s finger, that was a pretty savage burn on Finnegas, seeing a kid get all his wisdom–not just while, but by–making the pose of a confused baby.
The first lesson is that you should do things for yourself. The second is that late on St Patrick’s Day, hot fried food will suddenly be the smartest idea you’ve ever had. Both are absolutely correct.
Avoid Stupid Fights
Fionn’s entire job was fighting, which is why he has the most important lesson for big fights: avoid them whenever possible. Facing imminent attack by a Benandonner, a Scottish giant twice his size, he immediately launched into the brilliant battle plan of dressing like a baby.
When Benandonner politely called to Fionn’s house to wonder where the other half of his giant-á-giant battle was (because even rampaging foreign monsters had class in those days) Fionn’s wife Oonagh explained that he’d just popped out for a bit, but would be back soon. She introduced diaper-fetish Fionn as Fionn’s child. Seeing the giant baby, realizing how large the father must be, and not being very smart at all, the Scottish giant fled. Fionn won out over an impossible challenge by realizing that shame is nothing compared to having your face staved in.
Drink The Right Amount
Most moderation advice acts like drink is a deadly poison enjoyed only by idiots, then wonders why drinkers don’t listen to them. Drink is an upgrade so natural that the world makes it without us, fermenting fruit into happyjuice and hoping some monkeys are smart enough to notice. The key is optimizing our alcohol intake for the maximum amount of fun. Collapsing facedown in a puddle of puke is not fun for you, the owner of the carpet, or the friends whose night you’ve ended by becoming an effective six-month old.
Fionn’s first famous feast was where he saved the high king of Ireland, all the warriors, and the entire capital city. You know, standard introduction stuff. The town of Tara had bee plagued by Ailleen the Burner, a monster who attacked the feast hall by lulling everyone to sleep with music before winning at arson. You’d think that would be an easy trick to outwit the second time by blocking their ears. It happened twenty-two more times and the men of Tara stil never learned. Because we’ve all woken up with everything destroyed and thought “How much did I have to drink last night?” They probably didn’t even know they were under attack. They just figured they partied so hard the hangover involved rebuilding the entire city.
Fionn, armed with all the knowledge of the world, also didn’t think of blocking his ears. Instead he made sure not to drink too much and hid a spear under his cloak. Presumably explaining to the assembled warriors that he was extraordinarily pleased to see them. He then stayed awake by stabbing himself in the face. We said that he wasn’t drunk, not that he wasn’t stupid.
Thus armed and annoyed, Fionn wrapped his cloak around Ailleen’s head and repeatedly punched him in the face. Truly, an Irish hero: saving the capital city with the barfighting coat-wrap special. He turned the fire-breathing monster into a confused punching bag, ran it through with the spear, and was immediately declared “Best Fighter Ever” and put in charge of the Fianna. Think “The Knights of the Round Table, but bound by cool stuff instead of honor and they think armor is for wimps.” He earned all the coolest friends and had many more adventures, all because he drank enough to have fun, while everyone else was drinking themselves to disaster.
Luke McKinney writes about games, drink, science, and everything else that makes life amazing. He’s a columnist on Cracked and writes for several beer magazines. He’s also available for hire. Follow him on Tumblr and Twitter @lukemckinney.
Luke taught you how to Go Green with Proper St. Patrick’s Day Drinks