It’s March. The time of year when many folks are carefully crafting their winning brackets to participate in the season’s annual “madness,” while others are digging deep to find even that impossibly small bit of themselves that can be considered Irish.
As children, St. Patrick’s Day was all about avoiding the dreaded pinch by wearing green. As teenagers, depending on your developing mastery of the art of flirtation, it may have been purposely not wearing green in order to be pinched. As adults…well, college students…the whole thing seems to just be getting out of hand.
St. Patrick’s Day is no longer a low key celebration of a culture, but now (yet another) reason to become intoxicated at an unreasonable hour. Instead of just filling themselves with the traditional corn beef and cabbage, many young people are up at the crack of dawn, lining up at bars just so they can start drinking green beer as the sun rises. As can be imagined, this early-onset inebriation gets out of hand early on, making it a long day for law enforcement or anyone else who lives in a college town.
The problem has grown to such epic proportions, that some college campuses have taken to changing spring break from around Easter, which has always been the traditional time, to the week where St. Paddy’s Day falls, in an attempt to send hordes of students back to their parents (if they’ll even entertain keeping them during this time of year) or to other, more willing to have them, locales for the week. Think Pensacola, Mazatlan, or anywhere on the Gulf Coast.
And apparently, it’s working.
While St. Patrick’s Day is still celebrated, despite the fact most people have no clue why, there has been an emphasis on more family friendly activities. In cities such as Chicago, for example, the St. Patrick’s Day parade draws thousands of people to the sidewalks of the Windy City. The Chicago river is dyed green, adding to the festive atmosphere. Family activities are not only the stronghold of major cities, however. Many smaller towns are also offering events that promote responsible celebrating and limit, if not all out ban, alcohol consumption altogether. There may not be any green beer flowing, but there are plenty of green pancakes, milkshakes (McDonald’s Shamrock Shake reaching almost cult status during this time of year), and many other delicious green treats to be found.
Some folks, usually those found wearing a “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” button and green plastic shamrocks on their heads, disagree with all of the new rules and regulations surrounding the events of March 17th. They point to decades of tradition and the importance of celebrating your (or someone else’s) heritage.
However, as an American of Irish descent myself, St. Patrick’s Day seems to have little, or really, nothing to do with “being Irish” and everything to do with “getting drunk.” A day of innocent fun has morphed over the years to something much more destructive and somewhat obnoxious, which just doesn’t really seem to be what pious old St. Patrick had in mind at all.