BLACK: An official day to be Irish



Brigid Black

My fellow Villanovans, the greatest holiday of the year is upon us. It is a day that brings communities together to celebrate culture and pride, causing much warmth and joy in the hearts of college students and bar owners across America. That’s right, you guessed it – St. Patrick’s Day, is almost here.St. Patrick’s Day definitely does not go unnoticed here at Villanova, for we have a remarkably large population of Irish students. On and around the holiday, decorations in residence hall windows and students sporting Irish jerseys and caps are not uncommon sights. As a group, we are certainly proud of our “Irishness,” and we flaunt it.In a sense, Villanova is a microcosm of the nation as a whole. The United States is home to approximately 35 million citizens who claim Irish ancestry. Boston, Chicago and New York are only some of the many cities in which Irish-American communities have developed since the 19th century. The Irish are truly a key component to this nation’s melting pot.And yet, St. Patrick’s Day is not an official American holiday. That is, it is not recognized by the U.S. government as a national holiday that pertains to its own employees. In other words, almost everyone gets the day off on Memorial Day, Christmas Day and the nine other federal holidays. Not so on St. Pat’s.This year, Guinness & Co., producer of Ireland’s best-selling alcoholic drink of all time, decided to do something about this situation. Thus “Proposition 3-17” was born. Proposition 3-17 is Guinness’ attempt to make St. Patrick’s Day an official U.S. holiday. The online petition, accessible at, can be sent to Congress only if one million signatures are collected by midnight on March 16.According to the Web site, “Guinness and Proposition 3-17 supporters believe that a regulated, official holiday would not only reduce the amount of employees missing work in order to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day but officially allow people to express their Irishness.” While Proposition 3-17 embodies every Irish American’s dream come true (myself included), it’s almost an impossible dream. We all know that St. Patty’s is most commonly celebrated at pubs and bars throughout the day – which Proposition 3-17 subtly acknowledges by suggesting that those who skip work do just that. Knowing this, can Congress actually be swayed by Guinness? While my fellow Villanovans and I would probably vote “yes” on Proposition 3-17, a fairly conservative group of lawmakers won’t be as excited about giving Americans a day off to essentially go drink.Realistically, Guinness could do a better job of convincing Congress by more strongly emphasizing that family values and cultural traditions also help embody St. Patrick’s Day in addition to the beer – ideals that appeal to and apply to all Americans.Such an idea might sound corny at first. But honestly, my family is really what comes to mind when I think of the St. Patrick’s Days of my childhood. For many years, we sat down to dinner at my grandmother’s house and enjoyed a typical Irish-American meal of corned beef and cabbage, potatoes and, of course, soda bread. These fond memories of St. Patrick’s Day were characterized by family togetherness and a genuine sense of appreciation of who we are and where we come from.Truly, these sentiments were the crux of my holiday while growing up, and I know there are many others like me who have shared those same experiences – not just Irish Americans but Americans of all backgrounds. This values-based approach would more likely cause Congress to willingly warm up to Proposition 3-17.Sadly, at the time this column was written, the petition needed around 875,000 signatures to pass. Unless a massive swarm of support comes pouring in soon, it seems unlikely that Guinness will achieve its goal in 2008.However, the Irish have always been a resilient people, so defeat does not have to mean giving up. Perhaps 2009 will bring more luck for Proposition 3-17. Nevertheless, until St. Patrick’s Day is recognized as an official federal holiday, we can clink our glasses together and raise a toast to a day that will always be celebrated with pride, passion and a pint of Guinness. ——————-Brigid Black is a junior English and French major from Brooklyn, N.Y. She can be reached at [email protected]