Why is St. Paddy’s Day Such a Drunken Mess?
St. Patrick’s Day is next week, but the celebrations are already beginning in a lot of places around the United States. Beginning in revelry, that is, and ending in arrests. At the University of Massachusetts, Amherst last weekend, 73 people were arrested at a premature “Blarney Blowout.” Four officers were injured in the process of trying to shut down the party, which consisted of about 4,000 people. There were drunken fights, people throwing broken bottles, sexual assaults, and property damage.
UMass Amherst isn’t the only university that traditionally has a St. Paddy’s Day-inspired problem. Penn State University has an informal State Paddy’s Day each year, and it’s much in the same vein. It’s usually around the first weekend in March, and has been an annual celebration since 2007. It’s gotten so bad that the University has started to offer money to restaurants and bars to not open, or at least to not sell booze.
Indiana University of Pennsylvania is having problems this year as well. Neither the University nor the Police have yet released how many students were arrested, but a University spokesman assured the press that the violators will be punished appropriately.
For years, St. Paddy’s day has been associated with drunken revelry, especially throughout the United States. But how and why? After all, it is named after Saint Patrick, and was originally a Catholic feast day. How has that turned into this?
And how many people actually know the real history of the holiday?
It is believed that St. Patrick was originally a slave taken from Britain to Ireland. He eventually escaped and became a cleric, followed by a Bishop. March 17 is his feast day and is thought to be the day of his death. Many St. Patrick’s day symbols also have religious significance. For example, the shamrock was used it to illustrate the idea of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in Catholic theology. Others have evolved over time. For example, the color green didn’t become associated with St. Patrick’s Day until the 19th century. Traditionally, St. Patrick’s color was blue. And St. Patrick’s Day parades were never really a thing in Ireland, the first one of those was actually in Boston.
Of course most of the people celebrating St. Paddy’s day wouldn’t be able to tell you that, although not for lack of trying. Here are some drunk people trying to answer St. Paddy’s day questions. They do a fabulous job.
The one thing that does bother me about St. Paddy’s day though is the “Kiss Me I’m Irish” stuff. It’s weird and uncomfortable. I’m especially creeped out this year because Facebook has figured out my last name is very Irish and is trying to sell me “Kiss me, I’m a Mahoney” T-shirts.
That’s just creepy.
But all in all, it’s cool that St. Paddy’s day has become such a visible part of American culture. When the Irish first immigrated to the United States, they were scorned and reviled. Now everyone joins in on the celebration and that’s pretty awesome. Obviously some people take it a little too far, as illustrated in the college debauchery that happens all around the country, but I think we all know that even if St. Paddy’s Day didn’t exist, college students would find some other excuse to get drunk.
So enjoy yourselves next week, everyone. But if you get a moment to think about it in between beers, remember that the history of St. Paddy’s day does have cultural significance, and does take origins from a religious feast day. Try to be better than those drunk kids in the video who had no idea what they were celebrating. And have fun.
Anneliese Mahoney (@AMahoney8672) is Lead Editor at Law Street and a Connecticut transplant to Washington D.C. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University, and a passion for law, politics, and social issues. Contact Anneliese at amahoney@LawStreetMedia.com.
Featured image courtesy of [Bkkbrad via Wikipedia]