St. Patrick’s Day Debunked

Regan McEnroe, Staff Writer

Though St. Patrick’s Day began as an Irish tradition meant to celebrate religion, patriotism and culture, it has, over the centuries, grown into a rather outrageously rambunctious holiday that the country of Ireland has marketed into a scheme to attract more tourists.

St. Patrick’s Day began in the 10th century and was recognized as a religious holiday celebrating the feast day of Roman Catholic saint, St. Patrick.

It wasn’t until the Irish began to immigrate to America that the large parades and rowdy attendees we associate with the holiday today began.

As Irish immigration increased and patriotism ran deep through Irish American communities, these pockets of immigrants decided to combine their pride and form one joint celebration.

This is now the New York City St Patrick’s Day Parade, the world’s oldest and largest parade attended by nearly three million people each and every year.

Since then, other major cities began holding parades and introducing new traditions along with them.

Chicago holds another one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day parades, where the city dumps 40 pounds of green vegetable dye into the river, turning it green for several hours.

This tradition began when city pollution control workers used dyes as a way of locating illegal sewage discharges.

As the workers spent their days observing a river for waste and sludge, it dawned on them that this color might be a new and exciting way to commemorate St. Patrick’s Day and hence, the dying of the Chicago River continued. 

However, with all the hullabaloo about a traditional Irish celebration happening in America, the Irish finally decided it was time to take back their holiday.

Up until the 1970s, laws in Ireland mandated that all pubs be closed on Mar. 17 since, after all, St. Patrick’s Day is meant to be celebrated as a religious holiday. Needing a way to compete with America, this law was removed, and since then Ireland has produced strong national campaigns marketing St. Patrick’s Day as a ploy to attract more tourism.

It seems a little rash to abandon traditional practices in an effort to drive up tourism and make more money.

But since this four-day long celebration brings 70.2 million euros ($76.6 million) into the nation, it was, perhaps, a reasonable concession.

This one holiday single handedly supports the Irish economy. From restaurant businesses, to retail businesses, to transportation businesses, St. Patrick’s Day is truly a pot of gold for both the local and federal economies (though the US does take in $5.2 billion). 

The Irish struck marketing gold with St. Patrick’s Day, since people are always looking for an excuse to have a party, and this holiday is truly just one gigantic celebration.

How a holiday meant to respectfully commemorate the work of a saint who brought Christianity to Ireland has now become a day where any sense of moral or religious responsibility goes out the window is important to note. 

In essence St Patrick’s Day has developed into both a tourist tactic for Ireland, as well as a massive party that celebrates mythical leprechauns more so than the namesake of the holiday: St. Patrick.