In the United States, this is the biggest St. Patrick’s Day ever. According to surveys, more people are observing the holiday than in years past. I am also hearing that more people are traveling to St. Patrick’s Day events than ever. Locally, one of my favorite Chinese restaurants is holding a St. Patrick’s Day-themed special event for the first time ever.
Partly this must be because the holiday falls on a Saturday this year, but I also believe it reflects some ongoing trends. Observances of Christmas are declining in scale, as people try to turn that biggest holiday of the year from a high-stakes blowout into something more user-friendly. The same people who feel hassled by the stresses and obligations of Christmas (something I obviously know a lot about as a member of satirical Christmas band Bah and the Humbugs) or the hazards of Halloween and Independence Day may be drawn to the more carefree festival atmosphere surrounding St. Patrick’s Day.
The holiday on which everyone is Irish is surely also getting a subtle boost from a decade of relative peace in Ireland. Whatever the reasons, St. Patrick’s Day is moving up on the list of important U.S. holidays.