Today It Is Not Simply A Beer. It Is a Pint.

17 Mar

To look at me, you would immediately think: She’s Swedish!

No, that’s a lie.

As my high school principal once told my dad, “She has the map of Ireland written on her face.” I was alarmed when Dad relayed this to me, for a couple of reasons: (1) How did Sr. Mary Paul know my name? and (2) what the hell does that mean? Now I know, but if you do not know, I am not going to tell you. But I will tell you this: no, if you connect the dots it does not form the outline of the Emerald Isle. However, playing connect the dots on my leg does somehow always end up looking like a bunny rabbit and was one of my favorite pastimes during boring classes in high school. And now we’ve come full, wobbly, oblongy circle. Good times.


The point is I have a hefty dose of Irish heritage in me, which you can tell by simply a glimpse of my mug.

But no, to answer your next question, I’m not going to full-throttle celebrate my heritage today. I’m happy to be Irish on this most sacred of American Drinking Days, but pushing my way into an already packed bar is not my idea of a good time, so I’m thinking I’ll just enjoy my pint at home. Though would that I could transport the bars from Western Avenue (I’m talking to you, Keegan’s) to here in DC, and teach this city what it means to pull a pint.

My question for the day, however, is this: How did St. Pat’s become such a huge drinking extravaganza in the U.S.? By all accounts that I’ve known, it is not as such in Ireland. I’m under the impression that in Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is more like a holy day, celebrated with reverence and respect, rather than parades, green beer, and flashy T-shirts encouraging people to make out with one another. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that. From birth until mid-20s I religiously attended the South Side Irish Parade to celebrate St. Pat’s.) I wonder when the shift happened, exactly, and why? Especially when you think about the fact that when the Irish first came to America, they were seen as the lowest of the low on the totem pole, pariahs worthy only of the dirtiest and bleakest jobs, relegated to the smelliest, most wretched parts of the city. The Irish were nothings, they were nobodies, and few cared if they lived or died.

And now? Now to be Irish is a source of utter pomp and pride, particularly every March 17th.

Hello, 180!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite glad for the change of overall heart, but I’m curious as to what sparked it.

But let’s hold off on those deep discussions for a moment, and instead, enjoy your St. Pat’s, and raise a pint of Guinness in cheer. Cha deoch-slaint, i gun a traghadh.*

*Translation: It’s no health if the glass is not emptied.



One Response to “Today It Is Not Simply A Beer. It Is a Pint.”

  1. Cassie March 17, 2009 at 10:10 AM #

    The Irish moved up the ladder slightly, but the tradition of St. Patrick’s Day being linked to drunken debauchery is linked to those same negative stereotypes. The Irish were seen as drunks. It’s that same anti-Irish sentiment that dubbed the police wagons that haul larger groups to jail “Paddy Wagons.”

    Eventually, our natural good cheer and wit won out, I guess, and most of those stereotypes are now seen as sort of lovable.

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