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stanleybmanly's avatar

Faith and Begorrah. Today was a much bigger deal when I was growing up. How about you?

Asked by stanleybmanly (24153points) March 17th, 2019
14 responses
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janbb's avatar

It’s never been a big deal to me and still isn’t except for its being my younger son’s birthday. It is a big deal around here locally with parades, people wearing green all week and lots of drunken corned beef and cabbage. Just doesn’t do anything for me although I like Celtic folk music.

Jeruba's avatar

Well, in my case, I moved from Greater Boston to California. It’s a difference more of place than of time, I think.

I did tie a green ribbon in my hair today, to make up for schooldays when I was too obstinate to wear anything green on the day.

Demosthenes's avatar

I’ve only lived in California and Nevada and I’m not any part Irish, so it’s never been a particularly big deal for me. I enjoyed making St. Patrick’s Day-themed crafts in school as a kid and now that I’m an adult, I like using the day as an excuse to go out for a night of drinking (today will be no exception).

It’s interesting to me that this culturally specific holiday has become one of our regular holidays here in the United States (compared to say, other holidays that are celebrated by all Christians like Christmas and Easter or all Americans like Thanksgiving and 4th of July). St. Patrick’s Day feels oddly narrow in scope compared to the others.

Jeruba's avatar

@Demosthenes, I think we can thank elementary schools for that, at least in part. Classroom projects are often developed around so-called holidays, whether they’re actual holidays or not, especially when they have simple, vivid visual symbols and colors to go with them. St. Patrick’s Day certainly meets that criterion.

Also it’s about the only thing that happens in March that can be captured in hallway bulletin boards at retirement homes, themed on the covers of club newsletters, and tied into retail promotions.

Yesterday I ordered some electric scooter parts online for my son, and I got a St. Patrick’s Day discount. WTH?

In our more innocent days, before people started making it a point to feel excluded and be offended, it was simply fun to cut out shamrocks and decorate a classroom in green, just as it was with pink and red hearts in February and orange pumpkins in October.

In fact, I think one of the main reasons that Halloween is such a big deal in kids’ minds (and, it seems to me, an inevitable letdown) is that the occasion is not overtly religious or conspicuously rooted in one culture, even though of course it is if you dig a little. It’s safe to play it up, unlike, say, Easter. So by October 31st kids are dizzy with excitement. And then what—where does all that energy go?

And then obviously there is marketing. Store displays capitalize on quasi-holiday themes and decor. Somehow there seems to be an idea that if you invoke assorted religious and pagan symbols such as eggs and rabbits, in alluring pastels, you will induce people to buy more product. And they probably will.

These days it all seems to be less about celebrating and more about cynical manipulation of people’s emotions and behavior. If it didn’t work so well, they wouldn’t do it.

And, perhaps most important, I think there is a collective experience of loss as our sense of community and cultural identity erode. So many of the things we used to think defined us were encapsulated in our celebrations, as is true in many or most cultures. They’ve been PC’d away, hollowed out and rendered meaningless—not necessarily a bad thing in its specific intents, but we have little or nothing to take their place. That may be one reason why identity politics has taken such hold, I don’t know. At any rate this is not a small or trivial question, but I’m not seeing that we have a good idea of what to do about it. Unfortunately Donald Trump seems to have the best instincts for how to take advantage of the void in our greater community.

Demosthenes's avatar

@Jeruba Do you think that kind of erosion is part and parcel of living in a multicultural society, a “melting pot”? Homogeneous nations and communities may be able to better preserve their cultural traditions and come together as a community around their shared culture (secular and religious holidays, music, food), but in the United States, a nation that’s always been a mixture of cultures living together, perhaps holidays and communal celebrations are more likely to erode when there is little that binds people together apart from vague general principles like “liberty”. The United States has always stressed the importance of the individual, but perhaps it’s this focus on the individual that has eroded cultural traditions and left us wanting more of an identity or in some cases, wanting Americans to only have one identity (which often manifests itself in ugly ways).

janbb's avatar

I do think it’s an East Coast/West Coast thing though. As I said, it’s still very much a big thing around here, in NYC and in Boston too.

Jeruba's avatar

@Demosthenes, I think that’s a huge part of it. If you ask me today to characterize the culture I grew up in, the larger society of which I am a part, I don’t know how to do it. The thoughts that spring to mind are mostly pejorative, perhaps an internalization of resentments cast on us by those with grievances against us while we have lost the nerve to assert our own cultural identity. Our sense of legitimacy as a nation has taken a beating in recent decades.

If I bought into the misbegotten notion of American pride that seems to have taken hold in some parts, I think I would be nurturing my least worthy views and attitudes; but I don’t know where to look for something better. Religion? Nope, not for me. What, then? Politics?

Maybe this in part explains the popularity in the U.S. of British television’s historical dramas and invoking of the past glories of monarchy, our own cultural heritage as much as the Brits’: it reflects a time when we (some undefined “we”) knew who we were. Our history didn’t start in 1775.

The traits of individualist versus collectivist societies have interesting effects on our views of ourselves. Again, it’s a big question. I don’t fault any group for asserting itself either within or as distinct from the mainstream culture; but the mainstream culture is not holding itself together, to the detriment of all, and its attempts seem increasingly perverse.

One thing I think is true is that this evolutionary process is far from finished. And the people who are trying to manipulate it now actually have no idea what the outcomes will be.

The internet is making it all much worse, far worse than television and other global media could have done. I think we’d be better off with bubonic plague.

canidmajor's avatar

It’s pretty big here, too, (between Boston and New York), pretty much has been forever. I bartender and cocktails for too many years to feel anything but disgust for the “holiday”. For me it most often meant dealing with asshats who looked on it as an opportunity to get drunk and be really obnoxious to young women who were just trying to get their work done.

I have no love for this day.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Only a few celebrate here, mostly drunks.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Only when it landed on a school day.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

When you were growing up, the teachers were happy for any excuse to bring some variety to their jobs, so decorating for St. Pat’s was a welcome focus. Just like Thanksgiving, Valentine’s, etc. And maybe you grew up in a in a more Irish area than your current home.

Here in Chicago it’s a parade and riverdance/clog/whatever it’s called dancing day for the Irish groups and parishes.

But for most of the revelers it’s an excuse for a stupid (in a good way) fun day. Go the parade (or not) and drink. Fake an Irish accent. Wear a green paper hat or plastic beads. Or your finest green-ish t-shirt.

Oktoberfest is similar. But it lasts longer and there is food.

Darth_Algar's avatar

I’m not Irish, so no, it’s never been a big deal for me.

jca2's avatar

I feel like St. Pat’s is a time when the weather is getting nicer (around here) and people are feeling like going out because Spring is just around the corner. It’s something that takes people out of the winter doldrums a bit. As far as nationalities go, Irish people were a large portion of the US in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. In my area, there are Italian feasts too which are popular.

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