I'm Not Irish

Why should I wear green on March 17?



Let’s just get this out in the open. I hate St. Patrick’s Day.

In my estimation, it is the biggest non-holiday ever to eke out its own box on the Gregorian calendar. We hold parades for it. We dye rivers green for it. Hallmark makes greeting cards for it. Hell, even McDonald’s sells special milkshakes for it.

But why?

“To celebrate the Irish in all of us,” I am told.

Forgive me for being just a bit put off by the presumptuousness of this premise. I’m neither Irish, nor Catholic. (For the record, I’m a German Protestant.) So why should I care? According to the oracle of the online era (better known as Wikipedia), St. Patrick’s Day is “an annual feast day which celebrates Saint Patrick, one of the patron saints of Ireland. The day is the national holiday of Ireland.”

Hooray for the people of Ireland. Truly. But what makes this “holiday” so special it has to be commercialized and foisted upon our crowded calendar over here? Do we close down Fifth Avenue for Oktoberfest? Do we all wear red for the Feast of San Genarro? Why aren’t we all stringing up paper lanterns for Buddha’s birthday? And why stop with the Irish Catholics? Why not also have greeting cards and parades to celebrate the Polish Jew, the Indian Hindu, and the Turkish Muslim “in all of us?”

Perhaps if there were some innocuous, secular analog to St. Patrick’s Day (like there is with the Easter Bunny for Easter and Santa Claus for Christmas), I could get into the spirit of the day—or at least learn to live with it. But the decade I took Metro-North to work didn’t exactly endear the holiday to me. Each year, I’d loathe my evening commute on St. Patrick’s Day, as I’d have to share my train home with drunken bridge-and-tunnel revelers who’d called out sick to spend all day at the parade, only to turn my ride home into a raucous festival of fistfights and vomit.

Somehow, I think turning “green” from their overindulgence was not exactly the homage to St. Patrick they had in mind.