Green with envy

Americans love a bit of excitement. Whether it’s revelling in the downfall of a governor who keeps his brains in his Calvin Kleins, or gathering in bars and homes to watch the ‘world championship’ of a game basically only played by their fellow countrymen, no fuss is too great for the ticker tape-toting people of the United States.

Indeed, such is their dedication to a-whooping and a-hollering that Americans appear to have taken to appropriating the celebrations of other countries in a bid to satisfy their partylust. And let’s face it, there’s nothing that certain Americans love more than appropriating things from other countries.

So today is St Patrick’s Day, and such is the level of green hysteria that seems to have seized New York City that you’d swear that Mayor Bloomberg had promised a free pint of Guinness to anyone sporting a green shirt, tie or giant foam finger. The food hall downstairs from my office was festooned with green and orange balloons, while the bakery attempted to palm off green bagels on me rather than my normal wholewheat everything favourite. In the office, everybody wished each other a happy “St. Paddy’s Day”, while the newspapers are full of shamrock-laden articles on green beer and ‘Oirish’ celebrations.

The strange thing is, I’ve got pretty immediate Irish blood in my family, have lived across the water from Ireland all my life, and have even spent a St Patrick’s Day in Dublin (admittedly one that was effectively cancelled after an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in cattle), and yet I’ve never seen people take the day as seriously as they do here.

I guess it’s not surprising, given that the last US census revealed that 34.9 million Americans claim Irish ancestry – that’s nine times as many people as actually live in Ireland itself. But the same census claimed that there are about 35.3 million people of Hispanic extraction in the US, and I don’t see much of a celebration for them. Even July 4th doesn’t exactly have the same unmitigated enthusiasm associated with it that most New Yorkers seem to have for March 17th.

Happy though they may be to steal Ireland’s national day, most Americans seem reluctant to purloin any national day from the United Kingdom. There’s no walking round with giant daffodils on March 1 for St David’s Day, and no tartan-clad buildings around St Andrew’s Day. And I’m sure some people get dressed up in traditional English costume (Hackett t-shirts and Burberry jackets) on St George’s Day, but where’s the re-enactment of Georgie’s slaying of the dragon when you need it?

Personally, I think it’s time to launch a new celebratory day. After all, if New York’s the melting pot that everybody says it is, there’s got to be a chance that “I’m Not An American But I Really Fancy A Pint Day” could take off.

I can almost hear Hallmark’s designers working on a new range of dedicated cards even as I write.

4 thoughts on “Green with envy

  1. Sarah

    LMAO Dylan, you got it spot on with this piece. Why do they go so OTT for St Paddy’s day here, it’s a mystery, as you rightly point out they can’t all be descended from the Irish!

    After all back home it’s just an excuse for every paddy to get pi$$ed and the rest of us have to avoid the vomit!

    I think your idea is a cracker (best Irish accent)!

  2. LolaBloom

    Ha, too funny! Yes, absolutely spot on. Don’t forget Cinco de Mayo, remember there’s quite a lot more Mexican restaurants than there are “Irish” pubs here in the states and every last one seems to be packed to the gills on Cinco de Mayo.

    And if you were to ask the jolly Corona and/or margarita drinking folk what the significance of Cinco de Mayo is, they usually say it’s Mexican independence day….which in fact it’s not because that is September 16th. Cinco de Mayo is hardly celebrated at all outside of Puebla, MX where the “holiday” originated.

    I have to say, your blog has become my first to check every day as I am thoroughly enjoying your posts and commentary and witty humour. 🙂

  3. Dylan Post author

    Lola – I asked The Special One about Cinco de Maio last night as I was writing this piece, and she was pretty insistent that people don’t go as crazy for it as they do for St Patricks Day. But I’ll be watching out come May 5th!

    And thank you for your very kind comment – it’s much appreciated. Feel free to let anybody who has a vague interest in the cranky rants of a Brit-away-from-home know about it…always nice to have new people reading (and it makes the whole thing worth writing, obviously!). Oh, and I’ve added a link to your blog from mine, by the way!

    Sarah – glad that you agreed with me…I’ll be putting your name down for the first I’m Not An American But I Really Fancy A Pint Day celebration!

  4. Almost American

    I heard somewhere (maybe I dreamed it!) that St Patrick’s Day celebrations have become more popular in Ireland because of the number of Americans who go over there EXPECTING St Patrick’s Day to be a big deal in Ireland. The Tourist Board figured out it could be a moneymaker!

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