In pre-COVID times, millions of people would gather to celebrate St. Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint, on March 17. While some celebrate this holiday for religious reasons and/or having Irish ancestry, anyone can join the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, parades, and gatherings. Depending on where you live, you might even get pinched if you don’t wear green on this holiday!

Beyond wearing green, accessories for St. Paddy’s include top-hats, Shamrock buttons, or beaded necklaces in the colors of the Irish flag. You might also see t-shirts with slogans like “Kiss me, I’m Irish!” or “I’m here to Paddy” – a play on the expression ‘I’m here to party. What is your take on these attires? Are they a fun twist on an Americanized tradition or an example of appropriation and over-commercialization?

We’ve pulled together three sources that highlight Irish and Irish-American ideas on the globalization of St. Patrick’s Day. The Aquinian points to a fine line between celebrating Irish history and playing into negative stereotypes, like heavy drinking. Meanwhile, an article in the Illinois News Bureau discusses the way the holiday embodies liberation from a difficult history of anti-Irish discrimination across the United States. Finally, the video above showcases the holiday’s economic trajectory.

Here at Language Snaps we are on the fence: we see both negative and positive sides to U.S. based St. Patrick celebrations. Ultimately, we feel like if done responsibly and with attention to history and culture, March 17 is a great opportunity to learn more about Ireland, the plight of Irish-American immigrants, and what it means to persevere. 🍀

Practice

  • How did St. Patrick's Day become a global event?
  • What are the pros and cons of its globalization?
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