For Americans, corned beef and cabbage is likely to conjure up fond memories of spring evenings spent around the dining room table celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Maybe your Dad would allow you to drink some of his Guinness, which made that worn-out Riverdance tape playing in the background all the more likely to invoke visions of mischievous Leprechauns.
By late high school and college, you and some friends may have learned to cook a dried-out version of corned beef and cabbage of your own, probably again, aided by some Guinness, if you could afford import beer by then.
These milder traditions, while steeped in stereotype, are still inoffensive compared what has really become repulsive about the holiday: Using it as an excuse to spew your corned beef and cabbage all over the street. Excessive drinking on St. Patrick’s Day is worse than any other day of the year in the U.S. outside of, perhaps, Super Bowl Sunday, according to data compiled by BACtrack breathalyzer reported by The Washington Post.
Irish people have taken notice. In satirical newspaper Waterford Whispers News, a relatively dark piece was published called “Ireland Wipes Away Tears, Put On A Shamrock Hat, And Gives The World A Show.” In the story, a personification of Ireland considers running away instead of going through the motions of another St. Patrick’s Day.
“Despite all the promises that it ‘wasn’t going to cry’, Ireland couldn’t help but feel a single tear roll down its cheek as the stale smell wafting up from the box; old clothes, mixed with year-old beer stains, the metallic tang of a blood splash from some unlucky soul who may or may not have survived last year’s unprovoked attack in the city centre, the overbearing vinegar tang of vomit from soles of the old shoes at the bottom of the box.”
These charming “traditions” have also made their way back to Ireland, though it’s hard to say whether that’s more for tourists or some kind of bizarre form of reverse globalization. You can even find corned beef and cabbage in some places in central Dublin. One former Dubliner made the journey back a few years ago, and was shocked at the Americanized version of St. Patrick’s Day that he found.
“Basically, Ireland has discarded its nice little religious holiday and imported some North American version, from the green beer and leprechauns to the Chinese-made plastic green sh*te and pools of vomit everywhere. This revelation shocked me. I have no idea why, since the same thing happened with Halloween and Christmas, where we traded perfectly lovely holidays for deranged commercial imports. But it was shocking. Ireland now wholeheartedly embraces the primary international stereotype around the Irish.”
1. Corned beef and cabbage is more Jewish than Irish.
Unfortunately, corned beef and cabbage — most Americans are shocked to realize, upon visiting Ireland — actually has nothing to do with the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. In fact, most people living in Ireland at the time of mass immigration to the U.S. couldn’t even afford to eat beef because they couldn’t afford to sacrifice the dairy derived from their cattle. In fact, it was from Jewish delis that Irish-Americans started to concoct the dish that exists today, wrote Westchester.
Some food experts, however, have pushed back on this narrative. Event though many modern-day Irish scoff at corned beef and cabbage as typical cuisine of their country, Colman Andrews says that it’s a myth that Irish were all too poor for beef, and even says that it was so popular that it was exported from Cork, reported the Daily Meal.
2. Your blood is not an excuse to act a fool.
Go ahead, eat your corned beef and cabbage. Drink your Guinness. But for the love of God, stop claiming that you are somehow allowed to drink yourself stupid and fight people in public because one of your grandparents emigrated from Dublin. Your cultural identity is not derived from your genetic material. If your family has lived in the United States for three generations, you’re an American — not Irish. Sorry if that makes you sad, or question who you are — or fly into a drunken rage because you’re just SO Irish — but using your origins as an excuse for bad behavior is not only racist, it’s ignorant. A 2004 study by the World Health Organization found that Ireland actually has a relatively low prevalence of alcoholism, well below that of Canada, China and even Sweden. Yes, that’s right. Justin Trudeau and Celine Dion have more of an excuse to drink themselves silly than Irish-Americans.
But PUB CULTURE. Pub? You mean the thing you call a bar everywhere else in the world? Everywhere outside of countries living under strict Islamic law has bars. Getting drunk doesn’t make you Irish.
3. It’s never St. Patty’s Day.
Patty is only used as a nickname for women named Patricia, never for men named Patrick. Hence why St. Patrick’s Day is St. Paddy’s Day, coming from the name Pádraig. Irish people get annoyed enough at the mistake that the Dublin International Airport shared a meme once correcting the error, hoping that they could “hopefully banish the scourge of St. Patty once and for all,” reported Time.
With all of that said, it’s not like it’s patently wrong or offensive to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day as an American. Despite how disgustingly commercialized and cheap it has become — like everything that makes the journey into American air space — it has become its own edition of the Irish holiday and was at least started by people trying to keep their traditions alive, even as they journeyed across the Atlantic to start a new life. A 2015 Cracked article perhaps best described the way to approach the phenomenon.
“The thing is, American Irish is like alternative medicine. In that it’s not medicine, but it comes dressed up in bright colors with a lot of bulls**t and results in people getting sick. And it’s more concerned with names than with the active components that work. Still, at least the American Irish are getting sick by drinking effective medicines, if perhaps a few too many pints of it.”
Did this article effectively urinate into your corned beef and cabbage this St. Patrick’s Day? Sound off in the comments.
[Featured Image by Scott Barbour/Getty Images]