Methinks St. Paddy’s Day celebrations, especially on college campuses in the U.S., have gotten out of hand.
At the University of Illinois, for example, “Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day” was held this past weekend. Buses and trains brought in party-goers from across the state and even from out of state. Besides consuming more alcohol than was reasonably prudent, these revelers tossed objects from balconies, received more than 300 notices to appear in court for drug possession and public urination (among others), and left behind enough litter to fill a football stadium.
More than 20 were taken to local hospitals on alcohol-related issues. In previous years, some have been injured or even lost their life, again mostly alcohol-related.
Now I love a good party as much as the next Irishman, but really, is all this craziness necessary? When a person can’t remember how he got where he is, who he was with, or what he did, why does he think he had a good time??
Traditionally, March 17 was set aside to honor St. Patrick, who used a three-leafed shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to pagan Irish people and convert them to Christianity.
What once was a mostly Catholic saint’s day, with observers attending church and dining simply on corned beef and cabbage, has become an excuse for drunken celebrations across the land.
That makes me a wee bit sad, for as a culture, the Irish have been known for too long as drinkers. There are Irish drinking jokes, Irish toasts, even Irish quips on T-shirts.
I suspect there’s one reason behind all this — money.
Bars and restaurants are happy to trade food and drink to party-goers for green cash. Communities, strapped in tough economic times, are glad to take tourists’ money in exchange for hosting a colorful parade or dying some river or fountain Kelly green.
But not all Irish are drunks; some Irish never even touch alcohol.
And I hate to see what should be a joyous occasion marked by people throwing up in the streets and winding up unconscious (or worse) in some hospital.
Especially when those people are our young.
Perhaps we need to imitate the Irish in the motherland, who celebrate the festive occasion with music, sports competitions, fireworks, films, and other family-friendly events.
And remember, “There are only two kinds of people in the world, the Irish and those who wish they were!”