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The Paddy’s Day Problem – Green or No?

There are typically two types of Paddy’s day party-goers. First, we have the “Green Galore” celebrator. This crowd is decked out from head to toe in Kelly green. There are endless “Kiss me I’m Irish” shirts and pins. Large shamrock sunglasses are probably going past the width of their face and hitting innocent passersby. They’ve mixed up the usual “Red Solo” routine to go with the “Green Solo,” which is most certainly filled with green beer. Then we have the “Paddy’s Day Skeptic.”
 
Note that Paddy’s spelling is essential to this version of celebrator. This crowd scoffs at any shade of green on March 17th. In fact, they wear blue, the color truly associated with the saint. After all, St. Patrick’s Day is a feast day dedicated to this man. Is it not reasonable to stay true to his representation? I found the cross-cultural and lost-in-translation split of these two definitions to raise some interesting questions. How many people know what we are celebrating? How many people are aware of the myths of St. Patrick’s Day, yet follow them anyway? 
 
 
For the weekend leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to celebrate in Chicago. Before my friends and I departed to the streets, we had to change from our regular gear to our Irish pride! I know the myths. I know blue is Paddy’s color. I know that the shamrock is not Ireland’s symbol—it’s the harp. I know that St. Patrick was not born in Ireland. And seemingly most important, I know that if I spell Paddy with T’s instead of D’s, it will be off with my head.  
 
Still, I threw on my bright green shirt and a big shamrock necklace. When you are walking down the streets of Chicago on St. Patrick’s Day, and you aren’t wearing green, odds are you will be pinched so much you’ll return home looking polka-dotted. I was not particularly in the mood to grab bitter attention from the inebriated, and so I stuck with what seemed culturally prominent.
 
The consistent wearing of green developed in the 18th century, when people were wearing green to support Irish independence. St. Patrick was not born in Ireland, but brought to Ireland as a slave. It is fairly reasonable to suppose that St. Patrick’s Day, once a feast dedicated to one person immersed in the Irish culture, transcended into a holiday to celebrate an entire culture. Its primary influence, Paddy, prompted traditions that changed with a culture’s heavy history and events.  
 
While it is extremely relevant to remember the root of St. Patrick’s Day, it seems rather difficult to reprimand the risen traditions surrounding the holiday in modern time. It simply seems to be a micro- to macro- adaptation that brings validity to both sides. So maybe the green-wearers shouldn’t pinch those in blue. And perhaps the blue-shirted should not declare ignorance on the green side. Maybe, instead, you could just share a pint!
 
Photos 1, 2, 3
My name is Meghan!  I'm a junior undergraduate student at the University of Notre Dame.  More shocking than not, I come from Ann Arbor, MI—home of the Wolverines!  I'm an avid dancer and a complete music nut.  I come from a big family of six kids and have three dogs and two cats, because bigger is better.
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