Though many see Saint Patrick’s Day as just an excuse to be belligerent while completely covered in green attire, its origins can be traced back to the early 17th century.
Similar to holidays such as Christmas and Easter, Saint Patrick’s Day was built on the foundations of religion. Saint Patrick’s Day was created to honor and celebrate the death of Saint Patrick, the patron Saint of Ireland, who brought Christianity to the country.
However, over the course of time, the holiday (like many other holidays affiliated with religious ties) has become commercialized in order for people to celebrate it on a broader level. With that change, these holidays have lost its sentiment and are often not defined by its true meaning.
For me, Saint Patrick’s Day has always been one of those holidays where I felt slightly out of place celebrating.
In America, it’s socially acceptable for individuals to celebrate a holiday regardless of whether or not it’s adopted by their own beliefs. And of course, America is the land of the free. We have protected amendments that allow us to exercise the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to peaceably assemble, etc.
In America, we openly recognize and actively celebrate holidays to show respect for other cultures around the world. These holidays are even recognized by the school systems, the government, and the workplace.
Yet, when it comes down to Saint Patrick’s Day, I can no longer bring myself to being enthusiastic about going out and drinking green beer while wearing a four-leaf clover on my head and a tee-shirt that says, “Kiss me, I’m Irish.”
And it’s because I no longer feel comfortable knowingly celebrating a holiday that I really have no business celebrating.
When I was younger, I never felt compelled to express my personal beliefs or share the feelings I had about being a minority. Maybe it was because I was naive or maybe it was because I was just a kid who wanted to fit in with everyone else. Back then, I never had an issue openly celebrating holidays that were not my own. Even in college, I would happily go out with my friends on Saint Patrick’s Day just to drink and have a good time. But now, the game has changed.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that the way in which we celebrate holidays does not align with how we actually feel or what we truly believe in.
Those who celebrate Christmas and Easter, but don’t believe in God, do not celebrate religious holidays because they are religious. They celebrate them because we have appended a completely different meaning behind what these holidays signify.
Instead of admitting that Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus and that Easter celebrates his resurrection, we provide our reasonings for celebrating these holidays as being a time to get together with the family, exchange presents, and so on.
Similarly, on Saint Patrick’s Day, no one really cares about celebrating Irish heritage or Christianity. Many people who celebrate are not even of Irish descent or have any morsel of belief in Christianity. Instead, it’s a time to get as drunk as physically possible so that we can tell a good story later down the road.
And the thing is, that’s the exact reason I no longer want to celebrate.
Growing up, a majority of my friends were white. In the past, my friends had never intentionally made me feel out of place for not being white. Sure, there were times when someone cracked a joke which poked fun at Asian people, but that’s when I would feel the immediate weight of the fact that I was different and that it was obvious. And because of that, it makes it that much harder to want to celebrate a holiday like Saint Patrick’s Day.
When it comes down to the fact that Saint Patrick’s Day was not only built on the foundations of religion, but also that it is associated with race, it makes difficult to feel comfortable celebrating a holiday where people can physically point out the fact that I am not white.
Although Saint Patrick’s Day has been commercialized as much it is, those of Caucasian descent have no issues with feeling uncomfortable celebrating it. And that’s because those of Caucasian descent can easily pass for any ethnic background that is linked to fair-colored skin since it is genetically written on their face.
At the end of the day, I have no moral boundaries when it comes to celebrating Christmas or Easter because I know that I am deeply rooted in my beliefs and it has nothing to do with my race. For a holiday like Saint Patrick’s Day, it’s a completely different story.