Editorial: Americanization of St. Patrick’s Day




Saint Patrick’s Day is technically the feast day of Saint Patrick,  who Catholic Online describes as “a humble, pious, gentle man, whose love and total devotion to and trust in God should be a shining example to each of us. So complete was his trust in God, and of the importance of his mission, he feared nothing -not even death.” Early celebrators of Saint Patrick’s Day likely sought to honor his pious life while also nodding to Irish culture.

In its Americanization, Saint Patrick’s Day has become synonymous with drunkenness and disorderliness. In no shortage of irony, the day is perceived to be quite the opposite in nature from the “gentle” Saint Patrick. It is comical how much this day’s purpose has been distorted by American culture, and this distortion is most visible on college campuses in the United States. At colleges across the United States today, Saint Patrick’s Day is unofficially regarded as the largest drinking holiday of the year. On Saint Patrick’s Day, in any given college town, one need not look far in order to find green beer, lengthy pub lines and bar crawlers clad in leprechaun hats, shamrocks and “Irish I was drunk” shirts.

There is no way to know for sure just how much this American interpretation of Saint Patrick’s Day betrays the intentions of early celebrators of the holiday and Saint Patrick himself (he could have enjoyed a good beer, too).  After viewing an abundance of college-aged men in green cross-dress sprinting down Arch Street in Philadelphia to beat the Erin Express to the next bar, it is difficult not to wonder, “What would Saint Patrick think?”