I just saw one of the commercials in which Guinness promoted its effort to make St. Patrick’s Day an “official holiday” through the U.S. Congress. Leaving aside the fact that, pragmatically, March 18 should be the national holiday — people get hangovers, after all, and we get Jan. 1 instead of Dec. 31 off — I’ll give them credit for a clever idea-planting deal.
Clearly Guinness — and Diageo, its parent — know that this official-holiday thing, from a political perspective, really isn’t much. If Congress does recognize it, it would likely be just a symbolic recognition and not a federal holiday like Thanksgiving; if they don’t, well, whatever. The idea they’ve planted is to reinforce the predominant idea that St. Patrick’s is a time to take the entire day — particularly nice if it’s a day off anyway — and drink until you’re lying on the floor, which just might involve such Ireland-iconic (and delicious!) Diageo brands as Guinness, Harp or Smithwick’s. Either way, the drinking idea stays sticky in your brain-piece.
But back to the campaign, I would like to point out that St. Patrick’s Day is already a national holiday in — shocker — Ireland, where it is celebrated by taking the day off, going to Mass, and then hanging out at home. Parts of Ireland have imported the Americanized St. Patrick’s, but it’s by and large a day where people just rest up to honor my patron saint.
While I love a good party as much as the next guy, the wilding-out of St. Patrick’s is a trend I don’t much like — call it old-school, but St. Patrick’s Day to me is a day to watch bagpipers in parades and look back at just how far the Irish have come in the past 200+ years of America’s existence. Yes, pub-going is a big part of Ireland, but the whole get-blasted-in-green-hats thing is way more about consumerism than it is about any sort of ethnic pride. (Check out the number of Bud and Miller promos next time you’re out on St. Patrick’s.)
To acknowledge the counterargument, woo! Alcohol! But yeah, take it easy.