OPINION: Fake Patty’s Day is an offensive farce of Irish culture

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Fake Patty's Day is a Manhattan tradition, but it is not a celebratory day for everyone. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

It’s about that time of year again! Time for Manhattan’s annual festival of debauchery, underage binge drinking and misappropriating a proud cultural heritage.

Oh yes, we’re going there.

Fake Patty’s Day might be a proud Manhattan tradition (because drinking in public is better than drinking in your parents’ basement), but that doesn’t excuse its offensive existence. While I have no moral issues with people turning police scanners into comedy hours once a year, I do take issue with many aspects of this “holiday.”

My mother’s side of the family is Irish Catholic, and one of my fondest childhood memories is of visiting my maternal grandparents on Saint Patrick’s Day. I learned a lot about the history of my Irish ancestors that day, and the parade was a nice bonus — there was even a magician!

Now, my ancestral bloodline certainly helps me understand the value of alcoholic celebration, but why does Fake Patty’s Day bother me? I have a few reasons.

For starters, the name is a red flag right off the bat.

Most people don’t know this, but Saint Patrick isn’t actually the name of Saint Patrick. He was a missionary in Ireland, so his name was Gaelic — Padraig, not Patrick.

Ireland and England have had a historically troubled relationship. The two nations have been at odds for centuries, and that’s why the island of Ireland is currently split in two between the mostly Catholic Republic of Ireland and the mostly Protestant Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.

Saint Patrick is revered by Irish patriots for bringing Catholicism to the Emerald Isle, and calling his feast day “Saint Patty’s Day” is seen as offensive to his legacy. He was Irish, not English, and giving him an English nickname is a faux pas throughout the Irish diaspora. It’s Paddy, not Patty.

Not to mention, “Patty” is usually short for “Patricia,” and no one wants to misgender a saint.

Okay, that’s enough petty Patty semantics. Time for us to get to the heart of the problem: bastardizing a religious holiday.

Saint Patrick is a saint for a reason. He is a sacred figure in Catholicism, and as the patron saint of an entire country, he is one of the most culturally significant saints in one of the world’s largest religions.

Why, then, is it okay to reduce his holy feast day to a jokey excuse for drunken debauchery? Can you imagine the reaction if Manhattan started hosting Fake Ramadan or Fake Chinese New Year? There would be hell to pay, but apparently negative stereotypes against the Irish are okay.

The actual holiday of Saint Patrick’s Day has lost some of its cultural significance already, and making a fake version of it so college students can drink while their friends are still in town is incredibly callous.

In Ireland, there’s a term for people who call themselves Irish just because they wear green and drink green beer: plastic paddy. Every year on Saint Patrick’s Day, streets are filled by plastic paddies who want an excuse to get drunk without considering how their actions misappropriate the culture of Ireland.

Maybe the name Fake Patty’s Day is appropriate, then — it’s a holiday for fake paddies to express their ignorance.

Kyle Hampel is the reviews and opinion editor for the Collegian and a junior in English. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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