Why I No Longer Feel Comfortable Celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day

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.

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Two Weeks Until the Philippines

Recently, I’ve been very silent with using this personal blog to disclose my recent experiences and emotions. Instead, I’ve tried expanding my horizons to other Publishing platforms such as Medium, LinkedIn and EliteDaily. However, I can’t fully neglect the base for which I started my writing journey.

So, here I am providing one very large update. Although much has happened in the time since my last real entry, the largest piece of news that I have to offer is this:

I am leaving for my second-ever International trip to my parent’s home country of the Philippines in two weeks.

If you are familiar with my most recent travels, I went to Australia (my very first International trip) last August and it had opened my eyes to the wonders of traveling to a foreign country and being introduced to a different culture.

Personally, this trip to the Philippines is going to mean so much more than just being introduced to a different culture. In fact, it’s not quite different for me at all.

Being raised in a dual-culture environment was a crucial factor towards the person that I’ve become. As a child, it’s difficult to fully commit to one culture or the other, especially if you are a minority. You cannot hide your physical features no matter how hard you try. I’m a Filipino-American, and I was raised in a predominantly Filipino household. However, I more strongly identify myself with being American.

My parents would speak to me in their native language, however, I’d foolishly refuse to learn how to speak. I understood the language, but I chose English instead. It wasn’t until I grew older did I realize how important that part of me is.

I don’t want to say that I regret the choices I’ve made in the past, but I will say that I wish I had made a greater effort to learn my parent’s native tongue and be more immersed in my heritage.

Millions of people came to the United States to pursue the “American dream” Many of whom made this decision for their children; to provide them with opportunities that they could not have had in their home country.

I cannot begin to explain how grateful I am to my parents for coming here. I know that they made this decision for my sister and I. I also know that I will never be able to repay them for the sacrifices that they’ve made for us. However, I do realize all of the things that they left behind for us and I cannot say that it was in vain.

My family isn’t wealthy. We aren’t even on par with the majority of the Middle Class. However, we are happy with what we do have and what we have is something that most people strive for; a loving and supportive family.

Going to the Philippines will be an eye-opener for me. It will show me the bigger picture of where my parents came from, who and what they left behind, and why they are the way they are. I have a feeling that this trip will impact me in many ways and I couldn’t be more excited. There’s just something about going to your place of lineage and discovering your roots.

For many years, I was beginning to doubt if it would ever happen due to financial circumstance, but miracles can and do happen. Things only seem impossible until they are done.

Again, this trip wouldn’t be possible without the help of my parents. They came to America from the Philippines and now they are taking me and my sister back with them.

It’s going to be an amazing journey and I can’t wait to soak up as much as I can -Stay tuned for more

Never Forget

I’ve been working in New York City for almost two and a half years now.

I started working here on June 4th, 2012.

I moved into the city on December 1st, 2012.

I moved out of the City on May 31st, 2014.

With all the changes that have happened in my life and the lives of others over these past few years, the city seems to always remain the same. However, there are still certain days that have an impact on me and at this point, will most likely continue to have an impact on me for the rest of my life; those significant days that bring crashing waves of memories because it changed your life.

As I commuted into the city this morning to go to work, there was a difference that I felt.

Today is the 13th anniversary of the day that New York City’s twin towers were attacked. I was in my sixth grade English class at Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Edison, New Jersey when it happened. The impact of this event never hit as close to home as it has in my recent years since I’ve had an attachment to New York City.

When I entered Penn Station this morning, there was a memorial ceremony taking place in remembrance of 9/11. I was going to continue on my way to work, but I stopped to watch for a few minutes and my suddenly eyes began tearing.

I had no idea what came over me, but a wave of emotions took over and I was completely filled with sadness. As I got on the subway, I started thinking back on my life in New York City and how much it has changed me. I started thinking of all the past and present struggles in my life. I thought about why in the world I even chose to work in such an overwhelming place. As I looked around at the people who were next to me on the subway, I wondered if they were thinking the same thing.

I never thought that I would end up here. To be honest, I hated the idea of even being in the city when I was younger. I hated the smell, hated the crowds, hated the speed of everything.

Not until I started working here did I embrace this lifestyle.

This morning, I thought about how strong of a city New York really is and moreover, how strong the people inhabiting this city are. I thought about the impact that it has on millions of people.

I remembered why I fell in love with this city, with all of its seductive qualities; its chaos.

Then, realized why I became so sad this morning. I started to think about how close to home 9/11 really does hit me now and how close to home it hits to not only the people who live or work here, but to those who are outside of New York City; It hits not only just the United States, but the entire world.

New York City is made up of an endless combination of human beings. There are people living and working here who have come from every corner of the Earth. In the few years that I have been here, I’ve been moved by so many people who all have a unique story and attachment to New York City. To me, this place, this concrete jungle is my home. It’s no surprise that when I traveled all the way to Australia, I introduced myself as being from New York City instead of my actual hometown in New Jersey.

Everyone has some sort of attachment to this place. For some reason, it attracts all types of people and we will never fully understand why. It’s dirty, loud, and overall stressful to be in. But I do love it.

I’ve fallen in love a few times before – three to be exact. But the one love that has changed me the most is the love I have for New York City.

I know it’s a little melodramatic and exaggerated to say, but I fell truly, madly, and deeply in love with this place.

I watch television shows like Friends, Sex and the City, and How I Met Your Mother and I can fully understand and relate to everything that they reference.

To my friends who haven’t experienced the city the way I have, who haven’t worked or lived here, believe me when I say that you can never fully understand. There’s just something about being in New York City constantly; something that keeps us on our toes and wanting more. But, it’s definitely not for everyone.

So, on this day, when I think about the attack that happened on 9/11, I’m overcome with emotion. Because how dare someone attack something I love so much?

There will always be days that I will never forget. The day I started working here. The day I moved in. The day I moved out. And today.

Today is one of those days.