It’s no secret that many, even most, holidays have been invaded by consumerism. We need only mention Black Friday as the largest example of that, but clearly Valentine’s Day is on our radar as a consumer-holiday-trap as well. Oddly, though, over the year’s we’ve barely devoted any print space to the consumerization of St. Patrick’s Day. In retrospect, that seems odd since it’s a holiday where, obviously, much consumer marketing has taken over. This year we decided to remedy that situation and actually talk about the consumerization of St. Patrick’s Day. Not to worry – we’re going to balance it out with our favorite clever Irish quotes in our next article. Because consumer or not, St. Patrick’s Day should be fun!
Green is Not a Thing That You Buy
Here’s a fun fact for you. Traditionally, blue was the color associated with the holiday St. Patrick’s Day. However, over time green took over because Ireland is known as The Emerald Isle, there is green in the Irish flag and St. Patrick himself actually used green clover in his teachings of Catholicism. The fact that the color green wasn’t even originally associated with the holiday makes it the pinnacle of irony that the day is currently used as an excuse to get you to purchase anything green that you possibly can. If you walk through any store in the days or weeks leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, you’ll feel as though you are a failure in life if you don’t have green socks, green underwear, several green shirts, a green jacket, a green scarf and, of course, a green hat. You’ll also want green dishes for serving dinner and some green plastic cups for all of the drinking that you’ll be doing. We have a small reality check for you: You can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day perfectly well in your existing green clothing and accessories. In fact, you can have just as much fun not wearing green at all!
Irish is Also Not a Thing That You Buy
Whether or not you are personally Irish, St. Patrick’s Day is a day when many people are celebrating everything we know and love (or don’t know but jump on the bandwagon) about the great country of Ireland and its fun-loving population. And that’s a super thing. We’re pro raising cultural awareness of any country and its traditions. But you don’t need to buy all things Irish to do that. Buying a sheep’s wool sweater or a Celtic cross or a four-leaf clover lapel pin doesn’t make you more or less Irish. It just makes you a person who bought Irish things because somebody told you to do that for a holiday celebration! There’s nothing wrong with wanting to own things from Ireland. Just don’t own them because of a St. Patrick’s Day marketing campaign.
Booze is Something That You Buy. You Just Buy More of It on St. Patrick’s Day.
It’s not a huge secret that there’s a contingent of the Postconsumers content team that does indeed love their nightly adult beverages. And several of those people also love fine Irish whiskey (we recommend the Jameson distillery tour) and meaty Guinness stout beer (also a great tour). When these team members purchase these items, it’s because they enjoy drinking them. And they enjoy drinking them on St. Patrick’s Day as well. However, if you followed the consumer marketing trail it would lead you to believe that you failed at celebrating if you didn’t purchase copious amounts of these boozes on St. Patrick’s Day. Enjoy an adult beverage this St. Patrick’s Day. Enjoy one (or several) associated with the homeland of the holiday itself. But don’t just keep buying drink after drink because marketers have told you that that’s what you’re supposed to do on St. Patrick’s Day. You’ll spend money that you don’t need to spend and end up feeling mighty miserable the next day!
So Much Green and Gold Glitter Plastic. Just So Much.
This is not only a consumer disaster, it’s an eco-disaster. From the dollar store to the big box store to the party store, you’ll find everything from hats to banners to masks to signs. The list is endless. Plastic beads and paper pots of gold suddenly become things that you need to buy. Whether it’s to decorate your home or to hold and wear during a parade, plastic single-use “fun” items are everywhere. But please take the time to push pause before you make those purchases this year. Aside from being things that you truly don’t need, the chances are high that you’ll just be throwing them into a landfill on March 18th (likely after you wake up from your consumer-driven hangover)! Do you really want to spend money on things you don’t need that simultaneously damage the planet? In addition to the landfill element, the majority of single use plastic party supplies are manufactured in ways that are patently bad for the environment and create dangerous emissions.
St. Patrick’s Day is a Time to Have Fun. You Can Do That Without Bagging Big Purchases.
Like most holidays, if you strip St. Patrick’s Day down to its spirited core, it’s about having fun, communing with other people and celebrating a great culture (with or without all of the booze). None of that requires you to make mass purchases or smaller annual purchases. We encourage you to embrace and enjoy the day. We also encourage you to think twice of course about buying unnecessary extras to do that with. After all, you could use that money for a nice colcannon dinner with perhaps a side dish of tripe! An experience is worth much more than another green plastic hat!
“Here’s to me, and here’s to you. And here’s to love and laughter. I’ll be true as long as you. And not one moment after.”
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Photo Credit: Giuseppe Milo via Flickr