Happy St. Patty’s Day

17 Mar

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all those celebrating….including the many who are probably going a little overboard.  A few thoughts on this day that so many Americans like to use as an excuse to over-indulge and claim Irish heritage.

First, it does seem that there are many who do over-indulge. Chicago is a prime example, as it seems like St. Patty’s might be the most important day of the year. I am from the Midwest and have many friends and acquaintances in Chicago, and my social media was full of shenanigans going on there. Then I saw this article on just some of the crime and arrests – a funny read, but rather unfortunate really – and I kind of paused.

In light of many recent events that have taken place across the country, why are we okay with fist fighting, domestic disturbances, public drunkenness, and small scale rioting in one of America’s largest cities. And I guess I would have to say that it is because it’s largely white, largely middle class people who have co-opted a holiday and used that as an excuse to get belligerently drunk for a day. I can’t help but think that other groups would be characterized differently – as violent, or dangerous, or menaces if they engaged in the same behavior.

Another interesting read came from Nate Silver’s blog,, where they tackle the question of just how Irish are people who claim to be Irish. Walt Hickey, the author of this piece, relies on some assumptions and a relatively small sample size, but his end conclusion seems to have some legitimate face value. He ends up sayin that the general rule of thumb that he finds is that 25% seems to be the tipping point for those who claim an Irish American identity.  Fifty-five percent of those with a quarter or more Irish heritage claimed that as a part of their identity, and 78% of those who were half Irish claimed an Irish American identity.

What’s important to note (and he does briefly mention this) is that when it comes to who is out celebrating, it’s not just those who are claiming to have a link to Irish heritage…it’s anyone looking for an excuse to get blitzed.

The only heritage claimed more is German. And I guess we have Oktoberfest for that. And we have Cinco de Mayo. Maybe we in America have just gotten really good at co-opting other countries’ occasions and turning them into binge drinking events.


I myself am half Irish, although that’s not an identity I normally claim – certainly not an important one for myself – and I probably only think about it this time each year. (No, I did not go out and celebrate my heritage this evening, although we did make a spin off of shephard’s pie, a traditional Irish meal.) In any event, I hope everyone had a lovely day, whether you celebrated (responsibly I hope!) or not, and Irish heritage or not.


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