The Purpose Of St. Patty's

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

March 17, 2009 Ed Cartoon

For some, St. Patrick’s Day is a celebration of their Irish heritage â€" a tribute to the Roman Catholic feast day or a time for family to commemorate Ireland’s national holiday. However, for most, St. Patty’s is nothing more than an excuse to party and drink copious amounts of green beer.

Clearly the holiday has lost its original meaning, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. The secularization of holidays like St. Patrick’s Day and Valentine’s Day makes them more inclusive, giving everyone a reason to celebrate regardless of their race or religion.

Particularly in March, which would otherwise be lacking a holiday, having St. Patrick’s Day as a traditional day to party gives people something to look forward to in the dull span between Valentine’s Day and Easter.

Since most students are stressed this time of year, it is good to have an excuse to relax. Despite the campus-wide atmosphere of Irish pride, however, most people are actually unaware of the day’s cultural and religious significance.

St. Patrick’s Day is filled with historical importance, with certain aspects of the holiday typically overshadowed by its party element.

Now a holiday dedicated to excessive alcohol consumption, St. Patrick’s Day is a reflection of our modern secular society that, arguably, values tradition less than prior generations.

Unfortunately for those of Irish descent, the festivities perpetuate a negative stereotype that people from Ireland are typically prone to alcoholism, since the modern conception of the holiday is based around drinking “like the Irish.”

This popular secularized holiday also causes some issues for universities. Professors are faced with the dilemma of low class attendance and the question of whether classes should even be held.

Some students want to skip class for drinking purposes, while others expect to receive an education regardless of the festivities around them.

Regardless of attendance, classes should continue, since St. Patrick’s is not a recognized Canadian holiday. Cancelling classes to allow students the chance to party would hurt Western’s credibility as an academic institution.

However, having exams scheduled on a day known for campus-wide celebration is nothing short of cruel and professors should strive to accommodate those enjoying this annual event.

Overall, St. Patrick’s Day is a good time for those celebrating, whether this is through an Irish cultural festival, observance of the religious feast day with family or simply throwing back a few pints of green beer at The Spoke.

In the midst of campus festivities, students ought to remember â€" or perhaps investigate â€" some of the reasons behind the holiday. Hopefully, Western will be accommodating to the thousands of students hoping to be “Irish for a day.

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