The Problem With St. Patrick’s Day in Kingston

St. Patrick's Day, absenteeism‘Tis the morn after all those St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans, and chances are a few employees and students are enjoying a self-inflicted day off. While The Super Bowl, The Grey and Stanley Cups  as well as the Oscars(?) are all noteworthy events that likely result in spikes in local absenteeism, unfortunately the cold hard numbers explaining which events result in the most people calling in sick are either non-existent or otherwise contradictory. In any case, if you’re reading this from a semi-prone or horizontal position in the comfort of your home, a gigantic, green-colored, novelty top hat’s off to you and your distressed liver.

This year was the first in recent memory where I didn’t venture out to brave the crowds and enjoy a delicious Guinness at my favourite local watering hole.  It’s a shame to pass up an opportunity to enjoy a shamrock shake, dawn my favourite, lucky green duds, and take part in local festivities.  However, the further I get away from student life, the more I’ve come to realize that Kingston has a lot to learn when it comes to properly commemorating St. Paddy’s Day.  It seems as though too many establishments rely on hokey decorations, canned music and other commercialized nonsense rather than putting on a traditional show of Irish spirit.  Accordingly, this week’s poll asks:
[poll id=”150″]
Don’t get the wrong idea, I’m not hating on St. Paddy’s Day.  Rather, I’m tired of the same old, same old, where every local bar takes mediocre steps to cash in on the Feast of Saint Patrick by handing out green beads and the like.  Sure, we’ve got a modest St. Patrick’s Day parade, and pubs such as the Tir nan Óg take a more traditional approach by marking the occasion with Irish dancers and live Celtic music, but such pots of gold are few and far between. Perhaps Kingston could steal a page from Canadian cities such as Calgary, who colours the city’s famous tower green for the day, or Vancouver and parts of Manitoba who host multi-day Celtic festivals that are bursting with live music, step dancing and traditional fare. And why not take things one step further, as Newfoundland and Labrador have, and make Saint Patrick’s Day a provincial holiday?

How would you suggest Kingston improve the quality and authenticity of its St. Patrick’s Day celebrations? Thanks to michellerlee for today’s photo from Vancouver’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

3 thoughts on “The Problem With St. Patrick’s Day in Kingston

  • St Paddy's Day to me is weird – like a second New Years Eve.. whether you like it or not, the money put into advertising by bars and beer makers will cast a shadow on more wholesome 'Irish Culture'. It's always been an oddball holiday anyways – Besides maybe Valentine's Day, I can't think of any religous holiday celebrated by those outside of the religion. Let's face it, most non Jews don't celebrate Hanukkah, so why does everyone get St. Paddy's Day?

    • The simple answer is Guiness: the brewery has gone out of its way to promote this as a 'festival' throughout the world over decades. There's no particular reason why, in most areas of the world, St Patrick's Day should be celebrated more than any other diasporic national day. Perhaps Canada should pay more attention to First Nations celebrations…

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