Why I Say No to “Proposition 3-17”

This is the second year in a row I’ve received a press release about the Guinness/Diageo marketing campaign called Proposition 3-17 (I’m not supplying a backlink, just Google it if you want to find out more) in which the brand is trying to “make St. Patrick’s Day an officially-recognized holiday in the United States”. While I love a good marketing gimmick as much as — if not more than — the next guy, there are several reasons this particular gimmick (and yes, it is a gimmick) really annoys me.

First off, the modern day St. Patrick’s Day celebration is almost a completely secular cultural holiday celebrated by proposition 3-17Irish Americans (in this country anyway). And while I am the biggest proponent of celebrating cultural significance, if you’re going to reward one cultural holiday with national recognition, you must recognize all major cultural holidays that way. You cannot just pick and choose (its bad enough that only major Christian holidays are celebrated in America, but that’s a much larger argument for a much larger platform) which ones to recognize.

Secondly, it should absolutely never be up to a private company to try and dictate national holidays. Especially an English company (Diageo; which is headquartered in neither the U.S. nor Ireland). Valentine’s Day is bad enough, as its now an almost entirely commercial holiday (even Christmas is borderline but again, another argument for another platform), but at least it started out as something more. Yes, St. Patrick’s day is “something more” but if it were to become a nationalized holiday at the urging of a commercial brand, it would take any remaining true cultural legitimacy out of the holiday completely, and turn it entirely into the marketing gimmick Guinness is trying to make it (understandably, as I’m sure it’s the brand’s most profitable season). the recognition of a holiday should be up to the people and the government of the country recognizing it and at their own discretion; not at the gentle prodding of a major multinational corporation.

Lastly, while drinking beer is obviously a large facit of the celebration of St Patrick’s Day — and of the Irish culture itself — drinking alone is no reason for a national holiday. And believe me, I’m the biggest advocate of safe, responsible alcohol consumption (duh!), but when Guinness is trying to make an Irish holiday an American national holiday solely because of drinking, something has gone terribly wrong.

Saint Patrick’s Day is already a national holiday in Ireland, where it should be. And, while it is widely celebrated across the U.S. by Irish and non-Irish Americans alike, there is absolutely no legitimate reason to make it (and not every other major cultural holiday) a national holiday.

Those are my two cents, what are yours?

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4 comments

  1. Nice post. What would stop Hallmark from pushing for a national Valentine’s Day holiday?

  2. Remind me to buy you a Smithwick’s next time you’re in the same town as McGinty’s.

  3. Never mind; Rev. Greenway informs me that Smithwick’s is also owned by Diageo. (Sigh) I guess we’ll just have to drink local.

  4. Sigh. If I were forced to petition for one legitimate reason alone I’d strongly proclaim that anything, with few exceptions, that exhibits even the slightest possibility of relieving me from work for any duration of time is reason enough. The fact that on this day in particular makes finding a good corned beef diner along with a correctly poured beer a whole lot easier for me, it perhaps appeals to me more than others. And no matter what basis you create a holiday, people will drink. So arguing that a holiday shouldn’t be created due to the fact that many of it’s current participants decide to celebrate it by consuming alcohol won’t actually make a bit of difference in the end. I myself drink more on the 25th of December than I do on the 17th of March. And whether a holiday is official or not doesn’t constitute the degree of cultural awareness?most people have no idea about the actual reasons or significance behind any holiday. No hard feelings, but I’m warning you that if, let’s say, Whole Foods wants to market themselves by petitioning for Arbor Day in the same way or Abita chooses to do so Mardi Gras, I’m in. My will to not work is strong and runs deep.

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