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It's time for St. Patrick's Day to return to its roots

By Roland S. Martin, CNN Political Contributor
  • Roland Martin's lukewarm tweet about St. Patrick's Day got a big response
  • True, it honors the birth of Christianity in Ireland, and honors missionaries, he says
  • Be honest, Martin says, isn't the holiday more about getting drunk and pinched?
  • Commercialism, Martin says, has made a hash of our holidays

Editor's note: Roland Martin is a syndicated columnist and author of "The First: President Barack Obama's Road to the White House." He is a commentator for TV One Cable network and host/managing editor of its Sunday morning news show, Washington Watch with Roland Martin.

(CNN) -- There's nothing like causing a huge stir on Facebook and Twitter with 140 characters, but that certainly was the case Thursday when I took to social media to show my disdain for celebrating St. Patrick's Day.

This is what caused some of my followers to get a little stir crazy: "Is today St. Patrick's Day? That's a holiday I care nothing about. Never have. Is there a point other than wear green & drink?"

It didn't take long for the furious response to come flying in, and I must say, I wasn't bothered a bit.

Yes, I was aware of the historical significance of St. Patrick's Day, which was originally designated as a religious holiday celebrating Christianity in Ireland. March 17 has also been designated as a day of spiritual renewal and the offering of prayers for worldwide missionaries.

That may be the initial purpose of the day, but be truthful: Hasn't the day been reduced to one of wearing green (pinching someone if they don't have it on), and getting flat-out drunk to the point of not knowing your own name.

For as long as I can remember, St. Patrick's Day was all about wearing green and drinking. I was born Catholic and trust me, church and prayers were never associated with St. Patrick's Day.

Maybe in the old country of Ireland St. Patrick's Day is celebrated as originally intended, but not in this country. Public drunkenness is what the day has been reduced to.

That seems to be the problem with most holidays in this country. For some reason, President's Day means a plethora of mattress ads in the paper. Are we suggesting America's commander-in-chief is always sleeping on the job? Christmas is more about Santa and reindeer than the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Christians have called Easter Sunday Resurrection Sunday to celebrate the death, burial and revival of Jesus Christ, but many of you may think bunnies, hard-boiled eggs and chocolate. Memorial Day is supposed to be about honoring those U.S. soldiers who have died in service, not what will be the big blockbuster movie to debut.

The problem could be that in a capitalistic society, the mixing of spiritual holidays with pagan rituals justifies all this in the eyes of many. Our desire to spend, spend and spend could be at the heart of the issue. Do you want to tick off a family member? Tell them Christmas gifts won't be under the tree this year.

As a result, if we slap a holiday logo on a sale paper, boom! The holiday celebration is now on!

Maybe it's time for people of accountability to tell others that the commercialism needs to stop. St. Patrick's Day should return to being about the spirit, and not the spirits sold at the bar.

Get mad all you want. Post comments saying I'm being unfair to the Irish. But I'm just as critical about folks who only see the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday as an excuse for BBQ rather than a day of service.

The next time there is a holiday, especially a nationally recognized one, remind yourself and your family why it was created. Maybe that will change how you celebrate it.