By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)
As I write this post, the day after the 2012 St. Patrick’s Day “holiday,” I have a profound sense of a color besides Kelly green. I’m blue.
Blue because the world as I see it is spinning on its axis in the wrong direction. Leaning too far to the left (or right), and not from a political perspective. Drowning in a sea of conformity and acceptance. Okay. Enough with the purposeful metaphors.
Here in my hometown of Chicago and elsewhere, the multitudes “celebrated” St. Patrick’s Day, reportedly a day to honor the patron saint of Ireland, the guy who according to legend drove out the snakes a long time ago. I trust the snakes all drowned because Ireland is an island.
Here we dye the Chicago River a rich green and thousands — reportedly tens of thousands yesterday — line the streets downtown for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. And why not? We’ve had a long line of Irish mayors (Daley the First, and Daley the Second, most notably), global business interests with Gaelic names (Aon Insurance — “aon” means “oneness” and it was founded by a guy named Patrick Ryan) and plenty of pubs and restaurants named after Irishmen and women — real and imaginary.
So why have I not embraced the “greenness” of St. Patrick’s Day here in mid-March? Here’s why:
1. The Commercialization of the Holiday. St. Patrick’s Day has basically lost any of its cultural heritage or significance. When was the last time you read about this guy from Ireland who chased out the snakes? Or about any of the leaders of the struggle for Irish independence? No, St. Patrick’s Day is mainly about drinking, using the holiday to hawk products or services and wearing something green. Note the graphic below for an example.
The PRDude does not have reservations about any of these. Hey, I’m in public relations and marketing — communications disciplines that build relationships and promote things and services we need and buy. But this development is indicative of the way holidays have been denigrated into efforts to basically sell beer and trinkets. Think about it. We use dancing cartoons of Lincoln and Washington to sell mattresses; the Easter Bunny hawks chocolate eggs; Halloween has “evolved” from an opportunity for kids to collect candy from neighbors into a platform for adults to dress like zombies or the latest reality star. Don’t get me started about Christmas.
2. What’s Happening to the Weather? As I write this, it’s 74 degrees. Earlier today, the mercury climbed to around 80 degrees. It’s March, when we should be basking in 40 or 50 degree temperatures in the Midwest, donning raincoats and toting umbrellas around.
This is not “normal,” and I don’t like it. Flowering bulbs that should be blooming in April are in full bloom. Magnolia trees that normally explode with color in April are now flowering. Turf is starting to grow. People are outside sunbathing! Here we just completed a “winter that wasn’t” and now have lost spring to early summer. The weatherman said we’ve set five new record highs for the month — and there’s still two weeks to go. Talk about March Madness off the basketball court.
Our world is changing. And, maybe not all for the better. Sometimes, it’s beneficial looking back to the essence of a holiday or event that truly makes it meaningful, that truly gives it purpose. Sometimes the cold, wet and bleak days of March make us enjoy and appreciate spring and summer when it does arrive for good. There. I’m not as blue anymore.