Due to my forced Roman-Catholic upbringing, the mention of St. Patrick’s Day often evokes vague memories of being taught far too many lessons about the Holy Trinity. It is safe to say I can’t see a shamrock without remembering how St. Patrick was brought to Ireland to convert the pagans. My memory fails me, however, in remembering the shift from a holy day of obligation to the self-indulgent boozefest now colloquially called “St. Patty’s Day.”
Every time someone says “kiss me, I’m __% Irish,” (or, even better, “kiss me, I’m not Irish”), St. Patrick rolls over in his unmarked grave somewhere in the British Isles. I am far from a religious person, but it fascinates me endlessly to see America display its natural-given talent for making a mockery of the simplest traditions. Somewhere along the line, St. Patrick’s Day went from being about St. Patrick to being about day-drinking and color-coordinated college girls with shamrocks on their faces. Among crowds of adults and teenagers running amuck, throwing up or fighting in the street, it is easier than ever to spot the religious veneration.
It is a timeless American talent: the ability to turn any day into an excuse for some sort of drunken escapade. Between St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo and Thanksgiving Eve, the alcohol industry has consciously hit its apex in revenue. Chances are, if one was to ask participants the real significance of these glorified holidays, they would be too drunk to answer anyway. The fact is that somehow America has essentially created a day that definitely does not deserve to bear the name “St. Patrick’s Day.” Ironically enough, though not very surprising, it was America who spread this drinking culture elsewhere. It’s no wonder Europeans hate us— we are the personification of gluttony and selfishness wrapped into one red, white, blue, (and let’s not forget green) package.
What I’d really like to say is sorry to St. Patrick. I have no idea how it got so out of hand. There is something about us Americans which leads us to take everything much farther than necessary and profit simultaneously. The next time someone tries to pinch me for not wearing green, I’ll say, "Go back to your responsibilities. St. Patrick was not kidnapped and held prisoner for you to be incoherent at 11 a.m. on a Thursday."