I’m lucky enough to be born on March 17, otherwise known as St. Patrick’s Day. Because of this, my Irish father decided to name me Erin, which literally translates to “Ireland.”
Growing up, I loved sharing a birthday with a holiday that is recognized around the globe. It felt like the whole world was celebrating with me!
Enjoying the holiday with parades and Irish step-dancers or toilet water dyed green by mischievous “leprechauns” is all in good fun. However, I feel like the St. Paddy’s partying, especially on college campuses, seems like cultural appropriation.
[Photo courtesy of Party City]
Take Cinco de Mayo—it’s a day that commemorates the Mexican victory at the Battle of Puebla. However, the United States uses May fifth as an excuse to drink tequila, eat tacos and wear clothing such as sombreros, which enforces damaging stereotypes about Mexicans and their culture in the process.
St. Patrick’s Day is no different. Most people do not know its original significance—a religious observation of the death of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. The United States has turned the holiday into such a commercialized, boozy bash that the cultural meaning is gone and has been reduced to an excuse to drink.
Offensively tacky t-shirts that say “rub me for luck” or “sh*t me I’m kiss faced” are not funny and are not made appropriate for a saint’s feast day simply because it’s green with a shamrock thrown on it. It’s insensitive to assume that all Irish people are drunkards.
So please, just try to be respectful on this celebratory day. On that note, Erin go bragh!