St. Patrick’s Day viewed as drinking holiday, not religious holiday

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Every year, St. Patrick’s Day rolls around, bringing shamrocks, gimmicky green clothing and lots of booze, but the true meaning behind the holiday is generally forgotten in today’s drinking culture.

St. Patrick, the patron saint the holiday is named after, is remembered for his bravery, patience and listening to God to follow the call to share the gospel with the people of Ireland, according to an article published in National Geographic.

St. Patrick was born in Britain to an aristocratic Christian family, and he was kidnapped at 16 years old to be sold into slavery as a shepherd. Though as a child he showed no interest in Christianity, his experience in slavery supposedly brought him to Christ.

According to National Geographic, a voice came to him telling him to escape.

St. Patrick took a pirate ship back to Britain where he was reunited with his family, until that voice came back and told him to return to Ireland.

In Ireland, he was ordained as a pastor, and from there, he dedicated the rest of his life to spreading the gospel with the Irish.

Every March 17, people around the world celebrate his life, but instead of viewing it as a religious holiday, many view it solely as a drinking holiday.

As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, bars and restaurants in Lincoln prepare for the mass amount of people that will come out looking for a good time.

“We really try to make sure we’re well-staffed and well-stocked on food and liquor,” Fuzzy’s Shift Manager Alex Pace said.

And sometimes, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations mean keeping a close eye on the customers and cutting them off, if necessary. If a bartender at Fuzzy’s notices someone is slurring his or her words or stumbling extensively, he might give that person a soda or suggest food to sober the person up.

“It’s a bit like working with kids, actually,” Pace said. “(St. Patrick’s Day) is basically an excuse to go out drinking, relax and get away from the stress of homework.”

For freshman Ory Wickizer, being in a fraternity means that commemorating St. Patrick’s Day comes with parties to celebrate it.

“I never really celebrated it for it’s original meaning anyway,” Wickizer said. “I enjoy the holiday for what it is, but I don’t know the full meaning behind it.”

And most of the people he hangs out with don’t, either.

Although elementary school activities around the time of St. Patrick’s Day taught him the basics of St. Patrick himself, the focus of the holiday has shifted, and today’s generation generally doesn’t know the true significance behind it.

“People have definitely changed the meaning of St. Patrick’s Day,” Wickizer said.

Freshman Cheyanne MacClain, whose birthday is on St. Patrick’s Day, said that most holidays today are celebrated and associated with drinking. On college campuses especially, the emphasis on drinking is prominent and the religious aspect of holidays like St. Patrick’s Day tends to fall by the wayside, MacClain said.

“If you honestly took a survey asking people what religion St. Patrick’s Day is for or what it symbolizes, I guarantee you the majority of people would have no clue,” MacClain said. “We are raised to celebrate the holiday and not to appreciate the depth and meaning that it truly holds for our culture.”

For Marz General Manager Jason Ables, the skewed vision Americans have on the idea of St. Patrick’s Day is something that affects how the bar prepares for the night. But, Ables said, there’s nothing wrong with people focusing more on the social aspect rather than the religious aspect.

“I think that people are different, and it has different meanings depending on what is in their life,” Ables said. “St. Patrick’s Day is just a good reason to go out and have fun.”

In past years, Marz has had small crowds show up in the past to the bar. To prepare, the bar usually just puts up decorations and makes sure all the food is ready to go.

“We traditionally go for the food side rather than the bar side,” Ables said. “Food is our strength. The bar side is easy — all you have to do is have beer and have Irish whiskey.”

In terms of the bar business, Ables said, it’s just one of those things that’s been commercialized for a long time, and now, it’s the only way people really know how to celebrate.

“It’s just one of those things that’s taken on a life of its own,” Ables said.

It’s a life full of four-leaf clovers, leprechauns and Irish whiskey, but St. Patrick is remembered every year nonetheless.

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