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March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Day: Celebrating Wonderful Irish People With A Shitty American Holiday

I am all for people feeling good about where they come from but St. Patrick’s Day may be the worst holiday of the year. Celebrating Irish heritage is one thing, but celebrating it by embracing all the worst stereotypes of a culture is something else entirely. It would be like us Jews having Money Grubbing Day.

The Irish are a proud people. I know this because I read “Angela’s Ashes.” So I know the indignation and hardships they have endured here and abroad. They’ve accomplished much in this country, which makes me think there’s got to be a better way for them to honor their heritage than by throwing up.

As far as I can tell, the primary (and possibly only) activities associated with this stupid holiday are drinking beer, wearing green, and eating salty food. Which are also the primary activities associated with going to a Jets game. The corned beef and cabbage is traditional Irish fare, the green connotes the  beauty of the homeland, and the beer reminds us of the blight of alcoholism which has destroyed so many Irish families over the centuries.

If ever there was a people who should use alcohol less to celebrate their ancestry, it is the Irish. Using alcohol to celebrate being Irish like using small pox to celebrate being Native American. Or, now that I think about it, it’s also like using alcohol to celebrate Native American heritage.

New York City is a particularly egregious place to spend St. Patrick’s Day. As I write these words from the seventh floor of a supposedly soundproof building, I can hear whoops of joy rising from the streets below. Most likely these are people who started their day early in order to watch the big, gay-hating parade wend its way down Fifth Avenue. Ironically, most of the participants in the parade march while wearing women’s skirts. Why cross-dressing is fine but being gay is not in the Irish community is a source of mystery to me, but not one I care to attempt to solve because if there is one thing I like less than St. Patrick’s Day it is being beaten by cross-dressing Irish cops.

The celebrating starts early here in New York, and continues until the streets run with vomit. Because there are so many people of Irish descent in this city, it has become a de facto citywide holiday. When Puerto Rican Day rolls around in the summer, the fiestas are largely confined to the Puerto Ricans. Not so with the Irish. Participation is more or less mandatory for all people regardless of race or color or creed. In a way it’s nice, but it’s also annoying. I do not enjoy justifying my clothing choices to strangers wearing plastic leprechaun hats. If you are wearing one of those hats, I shouldn’t have to justify any clothing choices I may make. Honestly, once you’ve put on a plastic green leprechaun, you’ve given up the right to judge me about anything. “Why aren’t you wearin’ green?” they slur. To which I respond, “Why aren’t you unconscious?”

Nor do I feel the need to say cutesy things like “Top o’ the morning to ya’” or to kiss anybody simply for being Irish. If anything, I am going to be on extra-high herpes alert when confronted by strangers wearing buttons instructing me to kiss them.

On the other hand, I do enjoy Irish music the way I enjoy penicillin, in small doses. Irish soda bread is delicious. Irish sweaters are warm but itchy. Clog dancing I can do without, unless it is performed by Savion Glover. And that I think runs the full survey of Irish culture, unless you count eating sheep’s eyeballs, as recounted by Frank McCourt in the aforementioned "Angela’s Ashes.”

The Irish are a lovely people and I am happy they have a day to celebrate their heritage, but good Lord, can’t it be on a day when I am out of the country? Or can’t they at least do it more quietly? Or even better, can’t they do it in Ireland?

 

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braxto

i'm irish. i now hate myself even more than i already do. seriously, hilarious as always.

Kelly

How dare you!

*smashes beer mug on floor*

You want to kiss something Irish? Why don't you kiss my Irish--

*passes out*

saralibbey

I'm sorry I can't read this right now.. I am shit faced and falling down.. maybe tomorrow. Erin Go Brah! * oh I think I am gonna be sick! * hic!

Olivia

As much as I can agree with your thought on st. patrick's day, I definitely have to disagree. St. Patrick's day is about remembering and celebrating all the hardships that the Irish have been through. In saying that, I know everyone has been through tough situations but by toasting a nice green pint, people can just forget for a day and celebrate.

However, I will agree with you when people look at this holiday as an excuse to drink so much they are sick.

If you're this bent up about St. Patty's day, I definitely wouldn't want to see you around Valentine's day or Thanksgiving. Embrace the joy, don't be a St. Patricks Day Scrooge.

Kimberly Keener

You have many valid points to your blog concerning the stereotypes of Irish culture ( you even recognize the many stereotypes of your culture). I do agree with you for the most part that Americans of Irish decent (and those who are Irish for a day) do feed into them, but many of the participants and those who do feel that St. Patricks day is an important day will tell you that It is a religious holiday and that many people do attend a religious service on that day as opposed to many other days where parades are held.

I do appreciate your take on the day though
I also need to mention that Corned beef and cabbage is actually an American Irish fare. It is not something traditionally served in Ireland. I learned that a couple of years ago from a close friend of mine who is from Ireland ( but has lived here for nearly a decade and does enjoy corned beef). They would eat bangers and mash, and shepherds pie before even touching that.

Bridget

As one of Irish heritage, I hate St. Patricks Day. I won't go out, I won't be drinking and I won't wear green.

I won't go to church either, like people should be doing to celebrate SAINT Patricks Day, but that is because I don't ever go to church.

This is supposed to be a holy day for the church folk, not an excuse to get drunk and prepetrate an insulting stereotype.

JTMott

St. Pats Day is a religious holiday. The bars in Ireland were closed today (everybody went to church) until Americans kept showing up and wanted to throw money around. Capitalism won, bars now stay open...still remains that it's a religious holiday and it's lost on bleach blonde bar tramps and frosted tipped douche bags who just need yet another reason to get drunk.

Reen McCallahan O' Brien

So so good. Thanks for sharing your view which was off the hook. I'm reminded of that "CC Presents Stella" Irishish sketch about the "yummy yum yum yum" fish tacos, and that naughty limerick.

I'm laughing at you up there in a skyrise all bent over and crabby, barely tolerating all the happy hooting and hollering down below. You're like the Grinch overlooking Whoville, but cuter.

("Angelas Ashes" was a good book).

So my family has Scotch-Irish thrown in. My mom used to make homemade Irish soda bread (Ish!), corned beef (fatty streaks!), and buttered and salted cabbage (farts!) every St. Patty's. We all wore green and Mom would be giddy when she retold tales of her Scotch-Irish-Norwegian-Swedish dad and all the blarney and silly old man tricks he used to play. It was kind of cute, I guess, but how many times do we have to hear the story about Gramps hiding marbles in the medicine cabinet on Grammas Bridge night to emphasize his suspicion that her friends were nothing but nosy old bittys? (Gramma was horrified when she heard those marbles clattering on the tile!)

So now every St. Pattys day, I rebel. Just like a good less than 1/3 Scotch Irish lassie should. I wear red. I make my Kraut of a husband get his ass outside and grill meat that is anything but corned beef. We don't drink green beer, but instead sip coffee with whipped cream and Splenda. Maybe for dessert - some non-green pudding. <--(Not a euphenism).

Happy St. Pattys, you old poop.

lynda

Hilarious. I'm wearing black. St P's has become the new Halloween and NYE. Gals are wearing slutty outfits under the guise of being "Irish". Fellas are drinking early in the day and puking in broad daylight....given day light savings time change.

aeris_reborn

So true so true! People ream into me when I don't 'fall' into the "traditional" irish stuff associated with today?
Green beer? Gag me with a spoon.
Corned Beef/Cabbage... see above.
Wearing green? Eh nice but eh. No.

I heard that out in the NYC way they banned the Shamrock shake from McD's because people got offended? Have you heard anything about that?

Louis

I want to dip my balls in St. Patrick's Day.

Shanna

I agree that St. Patrick's Day has turned into a pointless Hallmark holiday giving immature people the go ahead to drink all day. Just like any other holiday in America it has been turned into a money making machine with no concern about the consequences. I come from an Irish background and both of my parents are alcoholics. I have not talked to my parents for about 5 years now because of our disagreements about their drinking habits. My mother once told me "we just like to party". St. Patrick's Day must be everyday for her because when I was a teenager she would drink from the time she crawled out of bed in the morning to when she passed out on the couch at night. The last time I heard from her she was in a wheelchair b/c the alcohol had destroyed her internal organs so much that her body stopped absorbing vitamins and minerals. She lost the ability to use her muscles which I understand is very painful. I have experienced firsthand what alcohol does to individuals and families. I have no problem celebrating my Irish heritage, but I certainly do not need to do it with a beer.

MissMoonwalker

You're cuter when you aren't being a hater.

Also, I too want Louis to dip his balls in St. Patty's day.

Meister Jazz

hahaha! I concur. I've yet to find a good reason to celebrate being irish. I mean, i'm black-american [too many generations to say i'm 'african'] and i know we have a whole month, but it would be like 'wooo, slavery was awesome' if we celebrated it this way. a better way to celebrate st. patrick is learning why i should care, and not go out and get drunk off my rocker.

i've never cared, but what was fun was a few years back my friend pinched me for not wearing green, after i threatened to kick him. my teacher told me no kicking, so i punched him.

rock the anti-st. patrick's day!

Natalie

Hear, hear!

Some Canadian Skeptic

I agree. I've been writing the linked article below for some paper or another every year.

http://somecanadianskeptic.blogspot.com/2009/03/st-patricks-day-still-racist-after-all.html

Felicia

Correction: The Irish don't dance with clogs. With all that high steppin' and leg flailin', they'd knock someone unconscious if they had clogs that could go whizzing off their feet.

My sister lucked out with a St Patty's Birthday and my parents doubled the fun by naming her Erin. So it's never about her.

Mini

Money Grubbing Day! Lets do it! How would it work though? Every non Jew has to give us some money or we'll put a death curse on them?

Sounds good to me!

whocares

shut up you fucking whiney jew

jbj

Hey, non-Puerto Ricans celebrate Puerto Rican Day! Regardless, I definitely feel St. Patty's Day is the northern equivalent to Mardi Gras. It's been bastardized and co-opted to the point that the people who should be celebrating...don't want to.

Tim

While I respect your opinion, just remember that st. patrick himself drank heavily on the day he considered his feast, and st. patty's day isn't necessarily a reflection of Irish culture but rather a celebration that lasts one day.

Carrie O'Connell

As an American of Irish descent - and an Irish dancer for over half of my life – one who considers this holiday nothing more than a work day where I get to dance for sweaty old men, may I say thank you.

Thank you for posting this ray of intelligence.

To say I hate this holiday would be a bit harsh – but let me tell you, I dislike it intensely.

Right now, downtown San Diego is full of green beer, “traditional” Irish food like corned beef and cabbage (which is a Jewish-influenced American dish – NOT traditional Irish fare), “traditional” Irish punk music (again – hardly authentic), and knuckleheads dressed head to toe in ridiculous green get-ups – who know nothing about the true meaning of this holiday.

As someone who is fiercely proud of my heritage – one who has indulged in and learned its history, worked to understand its sufferings and participated in its true culture, I choose not to celebrate this holiday – at least on American terms. I do not wear green (unless I happen to feel like it and the shirt is clean), I do not visit my favorite pubs and certainly do not drink green beer and eat badly cooked meat.

This holiday is for the plastic paddies. I’m fine with the other 364 days of the year.

Telly

It's not like people wear sombreros, serapes, and fake 'staches, drink tequila and Dos XX and fake a Spanish accent on Cinco de Mayo...What, they do? Crap!

Jaime

Yes, I don't need an excuse to puke in the middle of the day. A batch of homemade margaritas makes that choice for me.

But, most holidays are warped. Christmas has become a consumer-driven anti-religious holiday where two people celebrating the same holiday can't say "Merry Christmas" because that is shoving religion in someone's face. You're celebrating Christmas, but don't say Merry Christmas -- it makes total sense. Valentine's day equates diamonds with love, because you can put a price in it? And Halloween has transmogrified from the good old fun-lovin pagan celebration of scaring away spooks and offering candy sacrifices to a plastic-Transformers-costume festival. Hooray! But, the holidays bring us together to puke and be slutty. And isn't that what America's all about? Brotherhood? And sluttiness? A-men!

At least there's beer and color coordination. I am a fan of both.

bibberly

As an Irish person, I totally agree. People say that we have a special holiday to celebrate our heritage and we're so lucky, but it's really just an excuse for everyone to get drunk and be stupid. With all the alcoholism in my family, that's the last thing I want to celebrate. (I also take offense with Cinco de Mayo and Oktoberfest condensing proud heritage into "get drunk and throw up," but at least those aren't my own heritage, and no one gives you crap on the street for wearing the wrong color.) I would prefer something like Black History Month, where we honor contributions made in the past and learn about the hardships and discrimination, as well as spotlight a few famous people.
I also hate when people say they are "Irish for the day!" I'm Irish all year, bitch. When we had BHM celebration at my workplace last month, I didn't go around saying, "I'm black for the day!" If I had, anyone who punched me would have been totally justified.

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