Make sure to wear green and put down your keys if you want to avoid getting pinched, physically and metaphorically, this March 17th. Despite its religious undertones, St. Patrick’s Day inevitably results in some light bruising for folks whose dress doesn’t express the Emerald Isle’s characteristic hue. In America, it also ranks fourth on the list of the year’s most popular drinking occasions. There seems to be no end to the flow of green beer and Irish car bombs.
So why did St. Patrick’s Day come to be such a huge holiday in the United States? To Americans, especially those 36.5 million with Irish heritage, it represents something quite different than it does to the Irish living in Ireland. When close to a million poor Irish Catholics immigrated to the United States during the Great Potato Famine in the mid-1800s, they were despised for their religious beliefs and had a hard time finding even menial jobs. The first St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the United States were met with contempt. When the Irish began to realize that their great numbers gave them political power, they started to organize themselves into a force. Annual St. Patrick’s Day parades, that started not in Ireland but in New York City in March of 1762, were a demonstration of strength and solidarity among a people who, at that time, were for the most part unwelcome in protestant America.
So to Irish Americans and those claiming Irish American descent, a population that currently stands at about nine times the population of Ireland itself, St. Patrick’s Day means much more than the celebration of a religious figure – it’s a day that came to represent the strength and pride of the Irish people in a foreign land. And as such it has a very important meaning here – tens of millions of Americans are both proud to be American, and proud to be of Irish ancestry. On March 17th comes their chance to celebrate as such.
Each year, more than 33 million Irish-Americans and fellow partiers worldwide raise pints of Guinness and forkfuls of cabbage in the name of the Ireland’s primary patron saint. But the good times are too often ruined by drunk-driving incidents, which can have a devastating impact on lives in general and wallets in particular. Try to keep your celebrations safe this year. The cost of a quick Uber or Lyft ride pales in comparison to that of a DUI or vehicular manslaughter charge, after all.
*Source: Entangled.com, wallethub.com