It is no secret that Irish Americans were not always embraced by the United States. Arriving in America with no assets or land; early immigrants seeking new opportunities were often greeted with notices that “No Irish Need Apply”. With no money and little education, the Irish men and women began competing with recently freed slaves for menial positions in the workforce.This, along with stereotypes that Irish immigrants were prone to alcoholism and violence, left little room for the Irish to elevate themselves into society.
Photo courtesy of the Newberry
They were forced to live in cellars and shanties, partly because of poverty but also because they were considered bad for the neighborhood...they were unfamiliar with plumbing and running water. These living conditions bred sickness and early death. It was estimated that 80% of all infants born to Irish immigrants in New York City died. Their brogue and dress provoked ridicule; their poverty and illiteracy provoked scorn.
Fast forward to present day - According to the 2013 census, more than 33 million Americans report Irish ancestry. Clearly, Irish Americans have come a long way.
At no other time is this more apparent than on March 17th when the entire country goes Irish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
What began in Boston, MA as a celebration of Evacuation Day has morphed into a national celebration of Irish American culture in the U.S. Typical daytime celebrations include parades, images of Irish folklore, and celebrants wearing green.
Many people look forward to St. Patrick’s Day as a reason to party their faces off. What began as a tradition of raising a glass of green beer in celebration has become a yearly excuse to pub crawl until last call. Some people enjoy any opportunity that allows them to collect beads and take selfies for the Internet.
Photo courtesy of MarkScottAustinTX
Patrick Fitzgerald is a Massachusetts resident who describes the night of revelry as such:
We usually all hide from it. It's amateur night at all the bars in Boston and the drunks range from sadly amusing to belligerent...It's a huge nuisance to nightlife as a whole for the people who participate in it. Any place that serves alcohol is a target for the droves of intoxicated squares that take to the streets. It's FAR worse than NYE. Anything COOL that would normally go on on a StP's night either gets bumped in favor of a GREEN BEER type event or it gets inundated with assholes from the suburbs slurring, barfing, and generally ruining the scene.
Patrick Fitzgerald was kind enough to share his experiences with MA's St. Patrick's Day scene.
This doesn’t mean that those who are not into the standard party scene have to completely abstain from celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with friends. As promoter of Xmortis, a Gothic & Industrial nightclub in Cambridge,MA; Patrick knows there are locations that will work to keep patrons free of harassment in the name of revelry.
If our events happen to line up, we generally filter the door vigilantly. Xmortis's dress code comes in handy for this.
Shop a selection of green items at RebelsMarket
Although similar venues can be found in most American cities; many live in more rural areas or just don’t want to venture out into the masses.
As Patrick notes:
The burden isn't limited to the Goth scene really. Most folks just stay home until it's over, no matter what subculture they participate in.
Irish Whiskey Art Print
And really, what better way to enjoy the holiday than by setting up your own St. Patrick's Day celebration? You can go completely low key by staying in with a movie. If you are feeling more social, you can host your own event and control the crowd you party with. Why not experiment with some of our favorite St. Patrick's Day drink recipes? You can set the mood with music - see our St. Patrick's Day Music Playlist for ideas!
Do you have any suggestions on alternative ways to celebrate the holiday?