St Patrick’s Day and Alcohol
Can we celebrate occasions without alcohol?
This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of SpunOut.ie. It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for SpunOut.ie please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Evaluating your drinking habits, like evaluating other lifestyle aspects, isn't a bad thing"
St Patrick's Day is synonymous with all things that are perceived to be Irish – green, shamrock, and of course, drinking. It's no different to any bank holiday or religious holiday/occasion in Ireland. We associate a session with everything from baptisms to funerals, from weddings to break-ups. On St Patrick's Day, though, it's a lot more visible, from about noon-onwards, location depending.
It's easy to pick on St Patrick's Day for its association with alcohol, again due to the visibility. And an association with alcohol isn't necessarily a bad thing; it can be fun, enjoyable, relaxing. This is the case for most people. The problematic association is the one which implies you should drink “because you're Irish”, where you should get drunk “because you're Irish”. And it's not just St Patrick's Day that is associated with having to have a drink, instead of choosing to have one.
It probably happens most nights of the week. Whether it is a particular occasion or a casual night with friends. There's a certain shock that someone might not be drinking, almost, a disbelief. Of course most of us just get on with it, perhaps not even acknowledging a person present doesn't have a drink in their hand. The fact it happens however conveys some of the pressures for lots of young people who either don't drink, or aren't particularly heavy drinkers. For a person who doesn't drink, either at all or as much as others, it can seem a bit hard to manage in such situations.
“Do I start drinking now?” or “Is an hour too long to make one drink last?” can be questions on the mind for some. And for others, it's as simple as carrying on as they normally would – probably familiar with it at that stage. Evaluating your drinking habits, like evaluating other lifestyle aspects, isn't a bad thing. It can lead to reinforcing an already held stance that you're comfortable with. It might help you realise your own pace, and give you some piece of mind when you're drinking at your own pace instead of the pace of others – whether your pace is faster or slower.