By Katie East
This week marks the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, the holiday where Irish and non-Irish alike come together to remember the patron saint of getting drunk, and something about snakes.
St. Patrick’s Day isn’t really about being Irish. Not because everyone is a little Irish on the inside but because there just aren’t that many national heritages that inspire a ton of pride. People just jump on the Irish bandwagon because no one is impressed with their Finnish ancestors.
There’s just something about saying, “I’m Irish,” that imbues a feeling of passion. Maybe it’s because of how troubled the Irish people have been over the course of history. They are a people who have had to endure hardships for years. People love an underdog.
If that were true though, then Jewish people would have the most kickass parades. I guess they do have a lot of specific holidays, but their celebrations involve a lot of fasting and reflecting on difficult times past. I doubt a non-Jewish person would ever claim to be Jewish just to celebrate Passover. Or at least he wouldn’t design a catchy t-shirt to commemorate it.
You never hear anyone talking up his or her Australian heritage. If the Irish are an underdog then the Australians are the cartoon version in full costume. Australia was an English penal colony and took the overflow of prisoners. Now, Australia is a sought-after vacation spot. It would take a marketing team and a publicity agent to spin that one.
Why isn’t there an Australian freedom day? I would celebrate that. Australia is basically the younger surfer brother of Ireland. I would love to see what a holiday from there would look like. Plus, Australians are survivors. Between the spiders, crocodiles, snakes and sharks they have to avoid death every time they want a day at the beach.
Another country that probably will never get its own holiday is Germany, for obvious reasons. They don’t need to be displaying their flag and waving their arms around. Any sudden arm movements and someone might think they’re heiling. Germany is another country that could use a public relations facelift.
I’m German, and I know when people ask my background I always say “German” as a lackluster aside. “Yes, we did murder millions of our own people not that long ago but our sausages taste banging and our potato salad is pretty good. Don’t worry; our language is just very guttural, we’re not yelling at you! Nein!”
Along with being German, my entire background on my Dad’s side is British. That’s a heritage you certainly don’t get psyched about. The best part about being British is the accent and that doesn’t really travel across the pond.
In a way, every American is part British considering we were once a part of that country. Even though the Union Jack flag was a popular tee in the ’90s, I don’t think an English parade would be as marketable. The beer would be good but the food terrible. Plus, you never want anyone to yell: “The British are coming, the British are coming!”
Not all Irish folk are proud of the way they are portrayed and stereotyped during this St. Patrick holiday. In fact, the quintessential party shot named the “Irish Car Bomb” is not allowed in traditional Irish pubs. I have had several bars deny me the shot.
Last time I was at McManus in New York City, I asked the bartender why he wouldn’t serve me half a Guinness, half a shot of baileys and half a shot of Jameson. “It’s offensive,” he said in his thick Irish brogue. “You’re from Louisiana, right?” He asked. “It would be like drinking something called a Katrina, it’s in poor taste.”
You mean like drinking something called a hurricane? Because that would be in delicious taste, and I’ll have two of them. In Louisiana we name our strongest drinks after our biggest misfortunes. Just accept the poor taste, Ireland, because it tastes like creamy yummy drunkenness.
St. Patrick’s Day might not really capture the pride of a people. It is a good excuse though for coming together, celebrating family and experiencing traditions. You don’t have to be Irish to believe in that.