Stop Using Fake Holidays as an Excuse to Get Drunk


This isn’t to pick on St. Patrick’s Day, per se, because America has plenty of imported, quasi-holidays whose only purpose seems to be to sell as much booze to as many reluctant revelers as possible. Don’t have enough self-assurance to enjoy a highball at your local rathskeller on a Friday morning without fretting that everyone will think you’re an unemployed ruminant whose greatest aspiration is to make the Guinness Book for stickiest earwax? Ah, but it’s Arbor Day! You’re allowed to languish, lounge, and imbibe all the pine needle liquor you can tolerate, judgment free. It’s just calendar magic, and the little holiday name printed in the tidy little box on your tidy little Lisa Frank psychedelic ice floe calendar (why else would you bother buying a calendar these days?) is the incantation that disarms your sense of social awareness.

If the heirs to the cultural legacy established by the muskrat trappers, pirates, slave-traders, and religious sociopaths who founded America want to celebrate the Irish diaspora by drinking green tinctured beer, or toast the Mexican army’s momentary triumph over the French with a few healthy nips of tequila, they should go right ahead. America has a cinched a lot of drinking shame under its belt. We send people to war before we legally let them order a beer at Applebee’s. Think about how mundane and petty it is to prevent a voting-age adult from having a warm can of shitty, French-fry yellow American beer. The American people deserve any excuse to drink and make merry because our attitudes towards booze are so hopelessly bipolar that we wrote a hard-booze ban into the Constitution, then, essentially crossed it out (a lot of other Western countries got on the prohibition bandwagon, but America has made the best movies about Prohibition, so…) The Puritans planted their crops on top of rocks, wore shitty clothes, froze to death, refused to dance or smile, and also traveled across the Atlantic with casks of booze — drinking with a strong sense of religious guilt has soaked into the fabric of the American psyche.

Realistically, there are only five or six truly substance-based calendar holidays in this country: Christmas (or a secular, winter-time Christmas stand-in), Thanksgiving, Halloween, Carnival, Passover, and Independence Day. Staying up to ring in the New Year is always a sordid, star-crossed experiment in masochism, and celebrating Bastille Day is…unseemly. I mean, the French Revolution was super violent. Do you want that kind of holiday blood on your hands while you’re trying to enjoy a plastic flute of champagne? Of course you don’t.

All of the above holidays have substance-use/abuse on the docket. As in, they’re not mere excuses to chemically alter your state of mind the way St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo are — they’re pretty much insufferable for adults who don’t indulge in something. That doesn’t necessarily mean booze, either — getting pie drunk is a real and blissful thing. You can’t sit around a Thanksgiving dinner table full of relatives without having a drink or seven, you certainly can’t enjoy AMC’s Halloween Fearfest without getting good and stoned, and you’d have to be some kind of monster (or pregnant, sorry!) not to show up for a Carnival parade lit up like Achilles’ funeral pyre. How could you even fathom watching America shoot off pyrotechnic jism high into the heavens to celebrate no more British tariffs without dropping acid? The mere idea that any of these holidays can be enjoyed stone-cold sober is like some cruel Gregorian joke.

Fake holidays can be nice, sure. If you want to be a real nihilistic jerk about this, all holidays are fake, nothing has any meaning, and Earth is just a moldy lab culture hurtling through the cosmos. One holiday, then, is as good as any other, and you feel a particular connection to the Irish people because your flat-footed grandfather or amorous grandmother gave an Irishman a handie during a screening of Dumbo back in 1941, good for you — make all the merry you want on St. Patrick’s Day.

It’d just be awfully nice if, when American merrymakers took to their cups on such tenuous holidays, they didn’t also chastise anyone who forgot to wear the appropriate revelry outfit, or pretend that an event like St. Patrick’s Day held any true meaning for non-gingers, since, as we all know, March 17 is the day each year when the barrier between gingers and everyone with souls is the thinnest, and all manner of red-haired, ghostly-skinned creatures can walk freely among us.

Maybe you have St. Patrick’s Day traditions — you meet friends for green waffles at a diner, you drink green beer, you get wasted, forget that your body is full of artificial dye, go to the bathroom, and spend the next several hours in a panic-stricken state, convinced you’re turning into an iguana from the inside out. That’s wonderful — enjoy your traditions, wallow in them like a red-furred satyr. Buy out the plastic shamrocks at Party City and slap them all over your front door, or go to a parade, or, if you’re a real effete asshole, drink a warm, fish-goo Guinness and flip through a copy of Malone Meurt, pretending a mere three years of high school French is really serving you well.

What you must not, under any circumstances, do is exploit this hollow husk of an Americanized holiday so you can catch up on all the day-drinking you’ve missed out on because your Bacchic inclinations have been repressed by booze-shaming scions of the temperance movement. You must not, in your zeal to deaden the utter mortification of being trapped inside an organic machine that secretes, burps, oozes, farts, and expels with infinite and ignominious variety, fall prey to the hive-mind belief that it is your duty, as a person related distantly to or distantly aware of Ireland, to celebrate the arrival of Christianity to and simultaneous departure of snakes from a mossy rock plunked down in the northern Atlantic. You must not put on a green uniform and turn into a member of the St. Patrick’s Day Stasi, marching proudly around, shaming people dressed in beiges and greys, fine people just trying to enjoy their Sunday afternoon.

Don’t let the calendar turn you into a holiday zombie — defy Ireland, that bastion of oppressive cultural empire-building. Pick another day to relieve the March doldrums, or just decide to drink without tricking yourself into believe you’re celebrating something. That’s how stupid drinking games get started.

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