How your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations appropriate my culture

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Illustration by Momo Lin
Illustration by Momo Lin
Illustration by Momo Lin

When you think of cultures that have faced adversity throughout history, the Irish are frequently overlooked. Whether it’s British home rule up until the early 20th-century, stereotypes about being lazy and drunken good-for-nothings, or light-hearted comments about serious tragedies like the potato famine, Irish people are often targeted but rarely given sympathy for their cultural background.

It should come as little surprise then that the most discriminatory practice those of Irish descent face is also one of the most widely celebrated holidays of the year: St. Patrick’s Day.

“That’s impossible,” you might think to yourself while adjusting your shamrock-shaped novelty sunglasses. “St. Patrick’s doesn’t demean Irish heritage; the day celebrates it!” Once a feast day of religious and cultural significance to the Irish people, the holiday has been seized by the masses and turned into a green-beer infused orgy of debauchery in which every jackass from Hamilton to Hanoi claims to be Irish. For actual Irish people, including myself, this appropriation is utterly offensive.

Sure, we like our pints of Guinness as much as the next functioning alcoholic, but the last thing we need are frat packs of culturally-insensitive bros running around, getting wasted on our behalf. If we wanted to get drunk, we would. We’re really good at it, and we don’t need non-Irish people doing it for us.

Think I’m overreacting? Allow me to convey the seriousness of this appropriation epidemic with a real-life anecdote from last year. While attending an SFU St. Patty’s Day Pub Night, I was forced to witness my friend drunkenly hit on women while wearing a “Fuck Me I’m Irish” T-shirt. My friend is Japanese, and is no more Irish than a McDonald’s Shamrock Shake. If anyone should be having sex with anyone because they’re Irish, it’s me!

Everyone appropriates my culture willy-nilly and there seems to be no relief, no justice in sight. After several years spent in post-secondary, it has become evident that this school and its students care little for the plight of its Irish-Canadian students.

So what can my fellow Irish brothers and sisters do to fight back against this atrocity? As much as it pains me to say it, we must boycott this holiday and refuse to celebrate it. Without our approval, St. Patrick’s Day will lose any and all credibility. Refrain from dripping green dye into your favourite lager; drink from shot glasses that you didn’t buy from the dollar store; and save those temporary four-leaf clover tattoos for a day where cultural appropriation is less rampant. Like Earth Day, or maybe Thanksgiving.

Remember, Irish brothers and sisters, the only reason they appropriate our culture is because, in the words of a great Irishman, “They’re after me lucky charms!”