Jeannie Nielsen, Staff Writer
It has been a fixture of mid-March: students wandering around both campus and downtown, decked out as Irish caricatures adorned with shamrock necklaces, fake orange beards, stovepipes hats and an assortment of of St. Patrick’s Day accessories, usually of the green variety. St. Patrick’s Day, along with Halloween, is a holiday that gains new meaning when one reaches college. People look forward to having one carefree day in their lives, whether that means downing a pint of Guinness at 8 in the morning or just ordering the corned beef and cabbage special. However, anticipation of this sacred holiday turned to shock when students reviewed the spring semester calendar and saw that, much to their dismay, spring break starts the day before St. Patrick’s Day – ergo we will not be in Oneonta with our college buddies on this festive day.
This bit of knowledge was particularly alarming to junior Andee Eaton. St. Patty’s Day was special to her group of friends because they made a point to get together, do something fun and enjoy one another’s company. Wanting to preserve this tradition, Eaton created a Facebook group called “Saint Oney’s Day” and invited her friends to celebrate the holiday one week earlier, on March 10. However, she accidentally made the event public instead of clicking the “private” button. Soon, people Eaton had never met were joining the group, vowing to take back the holiday. Eaton did not expect the response to be so overwhelming but decided to adopt a “the more the merrier” attitude. “I wanted to see how many people could get involved,” she explained.
So what exactly is St. Oney’s Day? “Just a day to celebrate and do whatever you would have done on St. Patrick’s Day,” Eaton said. “The town’s always full of people hanging out and celebrating, so hopefully something similar can be accomplished with St. Oney’s Day.”
St. Patrick’s Day is notorious for excessive drinking, so there has been some concern as to whether St. Oney’s Day will promote underage or unsafe drinking. Eaton acknowledges that people may not choose to spend the day sober but defends the new holiday, citing the fact that it’s more about celebration and coming together. “Students choose to drink as little or as much as they want every weekend. Just because the day has a name to it doesn’t mean it’s going to influence drinking habits,” she said.
As of March 1, the St. Oney’s Day Facebook group had 579 members. People have taken it upon themselves to design T-shirts and hold parties for the event. There has been so much enthusiasm for the day that there is talk of having St. Oney’s next year, even though we are scheduled to be here on March 17. Eaton, for one, is thrilled with this idea. “It would be awesome to know I started an annual holiday here at Oneonta.”