Battle of the Drunken Holidays By: Joshua Chamberlain Posted: May 6, 2012
Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone! I hope everyone is celebrating accordingly. By accordingly, of course, I mean going to the bar, wearing big, stereotypically ethnic hats, and drinking cheap Corona/Dos Equis/etc. beer. Cinco de Mayo is one of my favorite holidays because it means next to nothing to pretty much everyone I know, yet it is frequently used by those same people as a reason to celebrate. By “celebrate,” of course, I mean get loaded.
Since I am at the stage of my life where going to a bar and getting loaded doesn’t happen much anymore, I will instead get loaded at my house and settle a question for the ages:
Which alcohol-based holiday is #1?
QUARTERFINALS (seeds are in parentheses)
St. Patrick’s Day (1) vs. Labor Day (8)
Labor Day is a great holiday. It is the last gasp of summer, and there are always solid get-togethers. There is typically some football on television, there are outdoors games that folks play, and it is a feel-good day.
As my wife says, on the other hand, “On St. Patrick’s Day, people are getting SHITFACED.” That is the deal. Bottom line.
Winner: St. Patrick’s Day (1)
New Year’s Eve (2) vs. Patriot’s Day (7)
Easy choice? Not so fast, drunky.
New Year’s Eve is easily the most visible of these days, and typically includes the most preparation. People plan parties, there is the Times Square nonsense, champagne is included in the standard celebration, and pretty much everyone gets the next day off. Very impressive.
That being said, one cannot discount the regional importance of Patriot’s Day. Everyone in Massachusetts gets the day off on Patriot’s Day. The Boston Marathon takes place. The Red Sox play at 11:00. Seems pretty nice, right? Still, there are naysayers. As my wife says, “Approximately 20,000 people care about Patriot’s Day. It’s some sort of weird Boston shit that gives college kids a reason to get drunk on a Monday…” She kept going for a few minutes, but you get the idea.
In the end, it came down to the importance. New Year’s Eve is celebrated because people feel like they should. Patriot’s Day is celebrated because people care. New Year’s Eve getting knocked out in the first round? Do you believe in miracles? YES!
Winner: Patriot’s Day (7)
Cinco de Mayo (3) vs. Valentine’s Day (6)
Cinco de Mayo gets extra drunk points because a large percentage of people “celebrating” have absolutely no idea what Cinco de Mayo actually celebrates. For most people, it is just a random day (hopefully falling on a Friday or Saturday) that gives them a reason to buy imported beer. Given our competition, this is important.
Valentine’s Day, on the other hand, gets points not because of the amount of drinking, but instead because of the nature of the drinking that takes place. February 15th typically consists of sad single women waking up after “empowering” girls’ nights with red-stained teeth and tear-streaked mascara. Funny as it might be, the power of Valentine’s Day wanes greatly over the years. As my wife says, “Valentine’s Day just means I have to make some bullshit cards for my kids’ friends.” Cinco de Mayo, however, ALWAYS means booze.
Winner: Cinco de Mayo (3)
Super Bowl (4) vs. 4th of July (5)
My wife was adamant that this was a mismatch of epic proportions. As she put it, “There are people who don’t give two shits about football.” Upon closer investigation, however, this matchup is not so simple. Though bashing football has been en vogue lately, it is still said by many that not watching the Super Bowl is simply un-American. Despite this, however, there is nothing more American than a good-old 4th of July cookout, complete with drunk friends and relatives.
The day off is also an important factor. If you get the day off after the Super Bowl, it is because you took it off, not because it was given to you.
Winner: 4th of July (5)
St. Patrick’s Day (1) vs. 4th of July (5)
This is a tough call, as the holidays both revolve around highly visible forms of national and cultural pride…and massive alcohol consumption.
Everyone knows why the 4th of July exists, and everyone buys in. There is nothing fake about it, in the sense that we have a legitimate reason to recognize the holiday. We are American, and we celebrate accordingly. The 4th of July also gets extra points for facilitating not just love of the thing it is celebrating (our country), but hatred for the things it is not celebrating (all other countries). Aggressive drunken xenophobia and meathead U-S-A chants are not to be trifled with.
That being said, one cannot underestimate the ability of St. Patrick’s Day to get people to buy in. I’m wearing a green St. Patrick’s Day-themed shirt right now, and I am not even a little bit Irish. For most people, the day exists for the sole purpose of drinking. While the 4th of July produces genuine nationalism, St. Patrick’s Day produces genuine fake nationalism. What the revelers lack in legitimacy, they make up for with inebriation and Irish music downloads.
The 4th of July is, really, just a summary of the things Americans do the rest of the year anyway. Grill? Yes. Go to the beach? Yes. Play with explosives? Yes. It is just concentrated Americanism.
St. Patrick’s Day, however, is a chance for drunks to pretend to be something they aren’t. That another country’s holiday can have such sway over our country is the deciding factor.
Winner: St. Patrick’s Day (1)
Cinco de Mayo (3) vs. Patriot’s Day (7)
The regional pride that goes into Patriot’s Day is the best thing that Patriot’s Day has going for it. There are a few pretty neat events and everyone in Massachusetts gets the day off, but that is where it ends. On the other hand, as far as I can tell, there is almost no pride (even fake pride) for most people celebrating Cinco de Mayo.
For the purposes of our contest, however, that lack of pride is perhaps the most important quality Cinco de Mayo has going for it. The entire celebration revolves around things that seem vaguely Mexican. We don’t just drink beer; we drink Corona. We don’t just wear hats; we wear enormous sombreros. We don’t make and share our favorite dishes; we go out for tacos. You can tell that Cinco de Mayo means nothing to most folks because, save for the occasional margarita, it is never celebrated in the home. It is a chance to go out, eat salty food, and get drunk while wearing fun hats. Forced inebriation is what this contest is all about.
Winner: Cinco de Mayo (3)
St. Patrick’s Day (1) vs. Cinco de Mayo (3)
It is important to note that these two holidays are fully legitimate. Still, while I think most people know that St. Patrick’s Day commemorates (not surprisingly) St. Patrick and has religious roots, there is still a contingent that believes Cinco de Mayo to be a creation of the Corona brewing company. I actually looked it up on Wikipedia and found that contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo does not actually celebrate Mexican independence. Of course, that fact changes nothing.
So why would a religious holiday and what most people assume to be another country’s independence day result in arguably the two most inebriated days on the American calendar? Good question. There is, in reality, no good reason beyond giving people an excuse to drink in excess. While there are a number of Irish-American and Mexican-American folks who take the holidays very seriously, the vast majority of revelers have no real connection to the day’s broader meaning. So, how can we make an informed decision on this one?
The difference lies in how much people attach themselves to the holiday’s root culture. Thus, the edge has to be given to St. Patrick’s Day. While drunkards will flock to “cantinas” in droves on Cinco de Mayo, they do not seem to be in any rush to call themselves Mexican. Sure, they wear the hats that the bars hand out and drink the Corona rather than their usual swill, but they will take any available opportunity to remind people that they are not actually Mexican.
On St. Patrick’s Day, however, people are crawling all over each other to see who is “more” Irish. If your last name is Callahan, you are in the clear. The Ceglarskis and Muellers of the world, however, have to get a little more creative. Got an Irish grandfather? Perfect. Your in-laws are 1/12th Irish? That works, too. Just find a reason, slap on the green shirt, get shitfaced before noon, and ride it out.
Since nobody has ever heard some utter the words “We’re all Mexican on Cinco de Mayo,” St. Patrick’s Day is our champion.