Ah, St. Patrick’s Day.
Surely one of the least Mennonite holidays of the year.
It’s not that there aren’t any Mennonites of Irish descent. There might not be a lot of Mennonite Churches in Ireland (one), and it is true that Ireland was not historically particularly welcoming of Anabaptists. But here in North America, plenty from the Irish diaspora have wandered into our Churches and communities.
But that doesn’t make the St. Patrick’s Day festivities as we know them here any more compatible with the Mennodom.
Oh, it may be a solemn religious occasion in Ireland and we Mennonites could maybe get into that, If it weren’t that the whole day honoured a saint, and if the day hadn’t become co-opted into something eerily nationalistic. But in North America, there’s not a chance. There’s not even a hint of an exhortation in the typical North American St. Patrick’s Day celebration at all.
For one thing, people go about talking about “luck” as if it’s a good thing. That’s not really how we think of luck. For the most part, we like to think that good things happen because of hard work and/or God’s blessing and bad things happen because of bad behaviour. Bad things like, say, the Russian Revolution and the destruction of our Mennonite villages in Ukraine. Sure, you can point to various deep-sated causes in terms of Russian politics and society and one could argue that Mennonites just had the bad luck of being caught up in something bigger than them. But we usually prefer to blame them for bringing it all upon themselves through wealth and un-neighbourliness.
In any case, no one’s out there wishing each other the Luck of the Mennonites.
I can’t see us really getting behind the whole Leprechaun mythology either. A mischievous imp who hoards gold? I think not. A few harmless practical jokes now and then are fine but any pots of gold should be properly donated to whatever good causes are chosen upon lengthy discussion and discernment. No, if there was a Mennonite equivalent of a Leprechaun, it’d be one who pranced around (without actually dancing) in Thrift Store fashions, telling us off for one thing or another while also feeding us fatty foods at magically never-ending potlucks.
One thing we can do, however, is write limericks.
Earlier this week, I put out a call on Mennonite Twitter and the internet did not disappoint.
Here are a few of our poetic offerings.
Some focused on our Church identity
Others commented on food and recreation.
Even some Pennsylvania Dutch Mennos from the US got in on the fun.
This one managed to avoid claiming any particular branch of Mennonite lineage
There are more, many more, covering everything from history to common last names. A couple are eschatological; a few are scatological. Ooooh, that rhymed — I feel another limerick coming on…
Need a little green cocktail to go with your Mennonite St. Patrick’s Day celebrations but don’t feel like adding green food colouring to anything or going out and buying a neon green liqueur?
The Luck o’ the Menno
- 3-4 sprigs of cilantro plus more for garnish
- 1-2 slices cucumber plus another thin slice for garnish
- 2 oz gin
- 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
- 1/2 oz simple syrup
Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and muddle to release the flavours of the cilantro and cucumber. Add ice and shake until well chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass and raise a glass to the poets of Mennonite Twitter.