OPINION | St. Patrick’s Day grievances from a half-Irish, fourth-generation American

I grew up engrained in St. Patrick’s Day celebrations before I even knew my ancestry. My great-great-grandparents were Irish homesteaders in Colorado, so my mom loved to dress my sister and I up in green and gold as kids. I have pictures of myself covered head-to-toe in temporary shamrock tattoos, devouring mint-chocolate green cake.   

I used to participate in St. Patrick’s Day with passion. I saw it as the closest thing I got to an Irish Heritage Day, despite how weak my sense of Irish culture is. Now, I’m just confused about why America even celebrates this holiday anymore.  

According to Time Magazine, St. Patrick was a patron Saint in the fifth century, back when the United Kingdom was a part of the Roman Empire. St. Patrick’s Day wasn’t celebrated until 1631, when it became a Christian feast in recognition of St. Patrick’s supposed luck in converting Druids to Christianity during his life. 

In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day was just a Christian feasting holiday. In 1762, Irish American soldiers paraded in New York City on St. Patrick’s Day, demanding acknowledgement from a discriminatory United States, according to The City University of New York. Parades became the norm by the 1850s, as more Irish immigrants arrived in America.  

Then, Time adds that in the 1980s, Budweiser somehow made March 17 a nationally recognized day of drinking beer, giving us the St. Patrick’s Day we celebrate now.  

While I understand the original intention behind the holiday, I still take issue with many of its conventions.  

  1. St. Patrick’s Day does nothing to uphold Irish heritage. 

Irish heritage isn’t frequently taught. The Irish migrated to the United States to find freedom from persecution for their practice of Catholicism. They thought America was the only promising way to find meals and housing during the Irish Potato Famine.  

But in the United States, the Irish were met with more of the same treatment. During the time of mass Irish immigration, the United States was primarily Protestant. The Irish were discriminated against for their religion and forced into poor living conditions, like indentured servitude.  

St. Patrick’s Day was a holiday for Irish acknowledgement when parades were first held. Now, like Cinco de Mayo, the holiday doesn’t seem to be about its original purpose anymore. Instead of sombreros and margaritas, we drink beer and wear orange wigs for St. Patrick’s Day.  

I admire the dedication to pretending to care about Irish heritage, but we would be lying if we said St. Patrick’s Day really acknowledged anything about being an Irish American.  

  1. A parade in Colorado’s March is too much.  

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a significant event here in Colorado Springs. I would encourage the parades in acknowledgment of their original purpose if March wasn’t the most unpredictable weather month in Colorado.  

In 2022, it was so hot on parade day that a coworker of mine got sun sickness that lasted days. Last year, it was barely 40 degrees, drizzling and windy all day. And yet, despite the unpredictable weather, Coloradans go outside to throw candy around every year.  

The parade offers a unique opportunity for marketing and community connection, but what does that have to do with Irish heritage or St. Patrick? Since St. Patrick’s Day has evolved out of genuinely celebrating Irish heritage, I see no point in holding a parade anymore.  

  1. Don’t pinch me.  

I have occasionally woken up on March 17 and pinched on the first human interaction. Only then do I realize it is St. Patrick’s Day, and I failed to wear green.  

But why must I be met with physical harassment for not dressing like a plant? Don’t pinch me. And if you do, I should be allowed to return the violence.  

I don’t want to keep such a niche color on hand for one day of the year. Sometimes, green doesn’t work for me, and I need space in my closet. I should not be attacked for this.  

  1. Being Irish has never landed me a kiss.  

Every year, I see “Kiss me, I’m Irish” propaganda, and it infuriates me. The only person kissing me on St. Patrick’s Day is my mother on my forehead.  

If being Irish really made me that kissable, I should be getting free kisses every day. I think the instant sunburns, curly red-brown hair, and blue-green eyes are a dead giveaway of my heritage. Why doesn’t this ploy for kisses work year-round? 

  1. Short Irish people are not Leprechauns. 

Leprechauns are a Celtic myth. They’re like fairies, only elusive and associated with pots of gold. The fabled creatures are too often associated with Irish appearance, especially on St. Patrick’s Day. 

Every year, someone finds a way to call me a leprechaun because I am short and Irish. I have no pot of gold. Please leave me alone.