Celebrating patron saints other than Patrick

Barker, Richards and Phoenix deserve holiday props

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

It’s St. Patrick’s Day. I’m always glad to enjoy a day that means celebration, good times, an afternoon nap, a few more beers and more good times. I’m not alone " remarkable numbers of people from all kinds of backgrounds commemorate Ireland’s favourite patron saint every March 17. But wait, who’s St. Patrick again?

Legend has it he was one of Christendom’s first missionaries, spreading the word of God through pre-Christian Ireland. Old Patty supposedly used one of modern St. Patrick’s Day’s most recognizable symbols " the three-leafed clover " in fifth century A.D. to explain the holy trinity to the then-uninformed Irish.

Another mythologized feat attributed to the never-officially-ordained saint is running all the snakes out of Ireland. March 17 is generally accepted as the day of his death sometime around 461 A.D.

One might wonder what exactly the correlation between remembering the acts of a missionary that died over 1,500 years ago and adding a few drops of green food colouring to our beers is " but it’s not much more logical than the connection between another saint and the current way we remember his deeds.

St. Valentine, who married and aided Christians in Rome around 270 A.D. when it was illegal to do so, was executed and supposedly buried on February 14. So now elementary school kids are pressured into buying packages of valentines on which they are expected to tediously address each member of their class, and for what? Heart-shaped Alka-Seltzer candies.

I’m not sure society has captured the best way to remember the pious acts of ancient religious zealots. Since the ways we remember the great acts of others inevitably involve excessive consumption of alcohol, wouldn’t it be more appropriate to commemorate the deeds of modern celebrities? Isn’t it about time we updated our holidays to honour people whose actions, like ripples in a pond, are still actively being felt in society today? Here’s a list of holidays I think we’ve been missing out on:

Travis Barker

St. Travis’ Day: This past September, Travis Barker " best known for his exceptional rhythmic abilities and inane MTV reality show " miraculously survived a plane crash in South Carolina. Shortly thereafter, arguably just as miraculously, he, Mark Hoppus and Tom Delonge announced the reunion of their band, Blink 182. Barker’s commitment to his music definitely deserves recognition. In October 2006, after breaking his arm during a video shoot in the middle of a tour, Barker continued on the tour for three more weeks, ultimately worsening the break. He has since recovered. I think Barker’s luck deserves as much recognition as that of the Irish.

Keith Richards

St. Keith’s Day: Keith Richards, wrinkled old sot and longtime guitarist for the Rolling Stones " who by all means ought to be dead alongside Keith Moon and John Bonham " is miraculously still alive. After getting started on speed in college in the 50s, Richards continually had run-ins with the law over drug possession, most notably in Toronto in 1977 when the RCMP raided his Harbour Castle Hotel room where they found 22 grams of heroin. Somehow, Richards never spent more than a day in prison. In April 2006, Richards sustained a head injury after falling out of a coconut tree in Fiji. Though the Stones had to postpone some tour dates, all " including the old bugger’s health " was eventually made right. Richards could teach the Irish a thing or two about luck.

River Phoenix

St. River’s Day: River Phoenix, Joaquin’s big brother, became a big name actor at an early age in the late 80s and remained that way until his untimely death of a drug overdose in 1993. A talented musician as well as actor, his death was felt by many in both the film and recording industries. Following Phoenix’s death, during one of Nirvana’s last live performances, Kurt Cobain dedicated a song to him. Following his death, REM and the Red Hot Chili Peppers both wrote songs for him. Interview With The Vampire, which he was to appear in, is dedicated to him. Phoenix was a progressive thinker not afraid to make courageous statements to the public. In 1990 he told People magazine, “Drugs aren’t just done by bad guys and sleazebags; it’s a universal disease ... the way it’s dealt with is questionable because a lot of people are just products of the system.” His death represents a tragic termination of talent that made an undeniable impact on pop culture. Drinks anyone?

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