It’s St. Patrick’s Day, which means a tide of green-clad frat bros have probably already kicked down your front door and puked in your shoes. This survival guide is designed to get you through the worst day of the year in as few pieces as possible.
On a day when green becomes the color of everything — including eggs, beer and rivers — it’s high time to acknowledge the other, less sickly St. Patrick’s Day color. I’m, of course, talking about the color red, and the fiery crimson coiffures that burn brightest on this most irredeemable of holidays.
As I’ve already noted, for myriad reasons, there’s never been a better time to be a redhead. “There have been a number of totally badass red-haired men with a rising pop-culture profile who have helped make ginger men hot in mainstream culture — Damien Lewis as Sgt. Brody in Homeland; Prince Harry; and Tormund Giantsbane in Game of Thrones (played by Kristofer Hivju) is an all-around great guy who you don’t want to mess with,” Duncan Crary, founder of a dedicated ginger community, told me earlier this year.
But what does that mean for redheads on St. Patty’s Day — a day that’s notorious for its dubiously accurate celebration of Irish heritage, most notably signified by a ginger mane? According to Crary, while things are getting better for redheaded males in the sex appeal department these days, traditionally, ginger men aren’t widely regarded as sex objects. “Except for on St. Patrick’s Day in America,” says Crary. “St. Paddy’s is the one day of the year where, as a ginger man, I can expect random women to grab my ass and objectify me in public.”
While that may seem annoying and perhaps even a form of harassment, Crary says he’s doesn’t really mind. “This isn’t wholly unwelcome by me so long as it’s playful and within limits, but it’s curious,” he says. “Obviously alcohol is a great un-inhibitor, but there’s also this Bizarro World thing happening where everything ‘Irish’ on St. Patrick’s Day is sexy-cool, and red hair is the most visible sign of being ‘100 Percent Irish’ in the minds of my fellow Americans.”
In fact, Crary has a unique theory about the power of ginger hair on this unholy holiday. “On any other day, having an Irish accent tops pretty much everything else as far as sex appeal for Americans goes,” says Crary. “But on St. Paddy’s Day, everyone is faking their best worst stage Irish accent — or just slurring incoherently — and you can’t hear anything anyway, so red hair takes it.”
Crary isn’t alone in his belief that St. Patrick’s Day is a sort of unofficial “fuck a redhead” day. In their blog post on the topic, natural redheads (and founders of ginger community “How to Be a Redhead”) Adrienne and Stephanie Vendetti claim that St. Patty’s is the day everyone wants to at least smooch a ginger. “To get even more in the spirit of the holiday, which originated as the feast day of St. Patrick who evangelized Ireland in the 5th century and became a cultural pride day for Irish-American immigrants in the late 1800s, party and parade goers can’t resist giving a kiss to any girl wearing the classic phrase, ‘Kiss me, I’m Irish.’ Better than an Irish girl is an Irish girl with authentic red hair,” they write.
Still, not every redhead is ignited by this schtick — some gingers just want St. Patrick’s Day celebrators to leave them alone. “As an Irishman who has a red beard and has been asked to say stupid things in an Irish accent and has endured countless Leprechaun comments just think for a moment about how god damn annoying you actually are,” writes one redditor. “Don’t say another word about it, and buy me a pint because I’m thirsty.”
Other redditors claim that having red hair on St. Patrick’s Day is no different than any other day. Like this guy: “Handle it just like every other day. Nobody ever pays me any attention anyways,” he writes. That said, at least one redhead disagrees, claiming that he hides at home to avoid the extra attention.
To that end, Emma Kelly, a redhead and founder of ginger community Ginger Parrot, tells me that it’s not just St. Patrick’s Day in America that translates to positive attention for redheads. “I once went over to Cork in Ireland to participate in a ginger parade,” she says. “Particularly in Ireland, having red hair on St. Patrick’s Day is seen as a special gift — something to be celebrated. We spent much of the parade high-fiving other redheads in the crowd and spreading lots of cheer and positivity around having red hair.”
So if you see a red head on St. Patrick’s Day, just try and remember that despite the fact that they’re rare, they’re also human. And before you gaze at them like they’re some sort of magical sprite, drunkenly falling in their direction and spilling your drink on anyone in your path, just be aware that drinking 10 pints of green sludge is no excuse for behaving like an arse.