St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone, and it leaves me with just one question. Why?
I work at an Irish bar and St. Patrick’s Day is the busiest night of the year. This year, we drew an enormous crowd that was about five times that of an average Saturday night.
The crowd drank green beer and ate corned beef and cabbage. The bar was decorated with paper shamrocks and leprechauns and everyone wore green plastic hats and buttons that said “Kiss me, I’m Irish.”
The funny part about it is that probably 95 percent of the crowd was not even half-Irish. Those few that claimed to be “100-percent Irish” did not even know why they celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. After polling random members of the crowd, I realized that people were there simply to get drunk, because “that’s what you’re supposed to do on St. Patrick’s Day.”
The plastic hats and stickers that the crowd wore were sponsored by Budweiser and Miller Lite, both American beer manufacturers. All decorations were cut out paper bought from a local party supply store. Besides the name, the bar I work at had no relationship to the Irish culture or the holiday.
St. Patrick’s Day started as a religious holiday in Ireland, celebrating the life of Maewyn Succat, Ireland’s patron saint responsible for converting the island to Christianity, who died on March 17, 493. Irish were required to go to church and schools and bars were closed in observance of this day. Only recently have officials in Dublin, Ireland began throwing St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, recognizing the tourism potential.
Throughout the years, St. Patrick’s Day has been built up and commercialized by American companies in order to make a profit.
I admit that I got caught up in it. I showed up to work wearing green Budweiser suspenders and was soon covered in promotional crap. I loved the increase in tips that I made from the huge crowd and I even stayed to party with my friends after I got off of work.
But halfway through my shift, and 10-stupid leprechaun stories later, I wondered, what are all of these people doing here? Why is St. Patrick’s Day a reason for everyone to get drunk?
People celebrate on New Year’s Eve because a new year is starting. People celebrate on their birthdays because they are turning a year older.
Not only do people go out to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with no clue what or why they are celebrating, they use March 17 as an excuse to go overboard.
At the bar I work at, one man passed out in the corner and I found a strange girl passed out in the front seat of my friend’s car in the parking lot. Another man kept chasing around leprechauns, that only he could see, so that he could catch them in a paper bag. Trust me when I say that this does not happen on an average Saturday night.
I do not want to sound like I am against going out and having a good time, if anything I promote celebrating every little occasion.
I just want to make sure that those of you who went out on St. Patrick’s Day to “drink like the Irish,” realize you were not because really, the Irish do not drink on St. Patrick’s Day. Also, green beer is just normal beer with food coloring in it that bars charge more for. For those of you who ate corned beef and cabbage, it is an American substitute for Irish bacon, and most Irish do not eat it.
Kelly Serrano, a senior communications major, is sports editor of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.