Americans are notorious for finding excuses to drink, as evident by happy hours and even Taco Tuesdays. If there’s anything that even remotely resembles a holiday, it’s a great reason to drink. We even gladly accept holidays from other cultures if it means we can pop open a brewski with our friends.
The Irish have a reputation for having a good time with alcohol as well, so it makes sense to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a night of drinking, as was the tradition in the Middle Ages.
USC Professor Lisa Bitel, who is an expert on St. Patrick’s Day, said the reason people started drinking on St. Patrick’s Day, was simply because it was a feast day in Ireland.
“In Ireland… when you had a feast day, especially for a national saint, it’d be a great day for celebration, and people would eat and drink,” Bitel said.
Even in Medieval Times, the Irish were just like us, looking for any opportunity to celebrate. But here in the U.S., we’ve seemingly upped the ante on the festivities.
“It’s compounded by the English characterization of the Irish as drunkards,” Bitel said. “That’s an old one.”
While the origins of St. Patrick’s Day drinking can be linked back to Irish celebrations in the 15th century, it has totally become Americanized since then, what with the parades and green-clad parties.
Heck, until the 1970s, pubs in Ireland were closed on St. Patrick’s Day, so there probably wasn’t the rampant drinking you’d expect on the holiday.
Don’t let that fool you, though. The Irish still have a solid reputation for their drinking, as Bitel said there are English government accounts from the 1500s where complaints came down of the Irish introducing English troops to whiskey and getting super lit with them.
It’s all a global party now. Even Ireland does big parades, too, granted they might be mostly attended by Americans, but it’s a parade nonetheless.
You probably could have guessed that we took another country’s culture, blew it up, and made it something way bigger than it probably should be, but if the Irish were cool with feasting and drinking to celebrate the patron saint, then we sure as hell can chug a Guinness and do the same here in the America.