My St. Patrick's Day crusade which started out positively is turning nasty. The original idea was that people of Irish descent on the day that the common cultural has conceded is theirs should find a better way of celebrating their heritage than binge drinking.
I started a kind of leaderless resistance movement called San Patricios Against Hunger. The idea was to make a donation to a hunger fighting charity, a recognition of the large number of famine refugees in the Irish diaspora.
I then discovered that somebody more organized than I was also taking the issue on. William Spencer Reilly (Relationship unknown, but I'm sure we must be cousins somehow) founded Sober St. Patrick's Day
To reclaim the true spirit of the day and to change the perception and experience of what St. Patrick's Day can be by providing family-friendly, alcohol free events that celebrate the depth of Irish culture, as well as year-round educational and cultural activities.
These are both good things and I still want to encourage them, but I'm starting to get negative and have decided for a moment to go with it.
By the way, when I say St. Patrick's Day is about binge drinking don't tell me that you drink responsibly on St. Patrick's Day. Check this out from the Governor's office in Maine from 2013.
Governor Receives St. Patrick’s Day Bill and Intends to Sign it into LawEmergency legislation. What was the emergency? People would have to wait till 9:00 AM to start drinking on St. Patrick's Day, because it happened to fall on Sunday. And I could not find any indication that there was anybody that thought this was a bad idea.
March 14, 2013
For Immediate Release: Thursday, Mar. 14
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary (207) 287-2531
AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage announced today that he will sign emergency legislation to allow bars to start serving alcoholic drinks at 6 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day, which is Sunday.
State law prohibits the sale of alcoholic beverages before 9 a.m. on Sundays. But St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Sunday this year so Rep. Barry Hobbins, D-Saco, submitted LD 216, “An Act To Extend the Hours for the Sale of Liquor on Sunday When St. Patrick's Day is on a Sunday.”
The Governor had promised to veto any legislation that arrived on his desk before the legislature approves his bill to pay the hospitals.
After a productive meeting with Rep. Hobbins on Wednesday, the Governor decided he would sign LD 216.
“Mainers know that I am a man of my word. But I am always open to reasonable suggestions,” the Governor said. “I’m pleased to sign this bill as a gesture of goodwill and as a supporter of Maine’s fine establishments that wish to open earlier on St. Patrick’s Day.”
“With that said, now is the time for the Legislature to move forward in paying our bills to the hospitals. The sooner the Legislature passes this bill, the sooner we can put Mainers back to work.”
Then a good friend of mine sent me an invitation. It was an event that featured Irish music and whiskey tasting. It is at a Unitarian Church. I mean really. When Unitarian Universalists feel that a negative ethnic stereotype can be casually alluded to, you know it is really deep.
I tried to do some research on the association between Irish descent and alcoholism. I came up with stuff like this post. Frankly, I don't know that this is one of those things on which the science is settled. So I'm going to go with the largely anecdotal evidence that indicates we have more than our share.
So if we are going to have a holiday that alludes to alcohol, it should be one in which nobody drinks at all rather than one in which people make sure that they drink more than usual..
I really had hoped to put more into this post, but I ran out of time.
I'll do better next year.
Peter J Reilly will celebrate St. Patrick's Day by donating to a hunger fighting charity.