St. Patrick’s Day, American style

St Patrick’s Day in the U.S. is a very weird phenomenon. Here in New York City green-clad people stagger around on the streets and stumble in and out of Irish themed bars, drunk out of their minds. And most of those people are not even Irish. It’s obvious at first glance that many of these people are of Italian or Puerto Rican or Eastern European descent, or from some other place far from the Emerald Isle. So clearly something is going on here besides ethnic identity.

The morbidly funny thing about all this is that it is such a U.S. phenomenon. In Ireland St. Patrick’s Day is a religious holiday. Some people might lift a pint at the pub, but not especially more than on other days.

And yet in America everybody goes crazy. For me the whole spectacle lost whatever little charm it had once held the year I saw a man in his sixties, dressed in a nice suit, falling down in the gutter, obviously soused out of his mind, while his equally well dressed wife pleaded helplessly with him to get up. Clearly the man had gotten caught up in the general madness, and had forgotten when to stop ordering more drinks. As I looked on in horror, I realized that sad little scenes like this were most likely playing out all over the city.

Remember how strange it was in Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation” to see Japanese people dressing up like cowboys and pretending to be exotic Americans? That’s how I imagine this would all seem to anybody from Dublin who happened to find themselves this side of the big pond on March 17.

Perhaps somewhere in the world, maybe in Latvia or Bora Bora, there is a little village where the people have voted to declare one day of the year “George Washington Day.” On this magical day, everybody wears American colors and drinks to that great patriot from Virginia – drinks until they are all falling down drunk and flopping on the ground like fish. Imagine you were to come upon this little down on that particular day, only to find crazed foreigners staggering around all piss-eyed and incoherent in their red, white and blue striped costumes.

Wouldn’t you find it all just a little bit disturbing?

3 thoughts on “St. Patrick’s Day, American style”

  1. It seems to me that the St. Patrick‚Äôs Day phenomenon everywhere but in Irland. I’ve seen the same “celebrations” in Austria, New Zealand, Denmark, and now Norway.

    It’s a bit like “Sound of Music” – known everywhere but in Austria. Thinking about it, I prefer the cheesy movie to drunk people in green shirts though..

  2. Perhaps its all a business idea from the (astoundingly well-networked) Irish pubs the world over. They surely felt they could bugger up business one better than some greeting card company’s lame-basted idea of Valentine’s Day.

  3. It may have been the proximity to the 6 Nations Rugby, but around London last week there were a rather large percentage of actual, real, honest-to-goodness Irish staggering around draped and painted in green and wearing Guinness hats.

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