What St. Paddy's Day Looks Like In College Vs. Now

by Chrissa Hardy

Holiday traditions are comforting to keep, knowing that each and every year, you will do the same things to celebrate a certain special day. But as you get older, traditions organically form into more adult versions of those same activities. It's just inevitable that you will celebrate holidays like St. Patrick's Day a little differently when you're a rent-paying grownup than how you did when you were a class-skipping college kid. Back then, the only thing that mattered was how you were getting your weekend supply of booze. Now, it's about drinking a reasonable amount of alcohol on a Friday so that you aren't totally useless the entire weekend.

Even if college feels like a not-so-distant memory, once you start living on your own and working to support yourself, your lifestyle just naturally changes. It's less about living for the moment and more about living a long and happy life. Your brain is more focused on the big picture than what is immediately in front of you. It doesn't mean you're any less of a rockstar, you're just kicking ass and taking names in a vastly different way. Here's what St. Paddy's Day looks like when you're in college versus when you're an adult.

1. The Start Time

When you're in college: You probably attend a St. Patrick's Day Eve party, a boozy SPD brunch the day of, and then an all-day Irish drink-off that will go well into the next morning. The party doesn't stop, because nobody drinks like the Irish and as a college kid, you are desperate to prove you can hang with Emerald Isle locals.

When you're an adult: The celebration starts after dinner on the night of St. Patrick's Day. You had to work the day before, and the day of, and you probably have to work the day after (unless it falls on a weekend). You want to flex your still-impressive drinking muscles, but you don't want to be a hot mess the next day at the office, and it wasn't worth wasting a vacation day to take the next day off, so the party will end around midnight.

2. The Crowd

When you're in college: The crowd needs to be the biggest ever. The more, the merrier. Duh. You probably don't know anyone's last name, and you only know a handful of first names, but you are happy to welcome any and all strangers who want to party with you and your besties.

When you're an adult: You might partake in a pub crawl with your small group of pals, and you're a little more wary of strangers. This isn't a frat house, where everyone inside is the same age and will all be skipping class the next morning. This is the real world, and weirdos are everywhere. You stick with your small crew, and keep them close.

3. The Attire

When you're in college: The more outrageous your SPD outfit can be, the better. You wear the most offensive, sexually suggestive t-shirt you can find, with the tallest leprechaun hat, and those crazy obnoxious green glasses.

When you're an adult: Less is more. Offensive t-shirts are childish, and you can show your Irish pride with one tasteful green item or accessory, not all of them.

4. The Booze

When you're in college: The cheaper the booze, the more you can buy. And the more you can buy, the more you can drink. It's a philosophy that will serve you and your bank account well for all four years.

When you're an adult: You drink actual Irish beverages, because it seems silly to drink anything but. Guinness or Jameson will do just fine. And it's more about sipping and finishing your second glass, rather than chugging your ninth.

5. The Food

When you're in college: Food doesn't really matter. In order to get the most drunk in the least amount of time, you go at it on an empty stomach. Then once you're good and blacked out, you might load up on Dollar Menu classics from McDonald's. Or maybe two boxes of bagel bites you found in the back of your freezer.

When you're an adult: Regular balanced meals are important for your overall mental, emotional, and physical health. So you eat a full meal before the SPD boozing begins, because getting blacked out before the sun goes down isn't so cute for a grown woman. You probably made a delicious dish of corned beef and cabbage in the crockpot while you were at work, and will now proudly consume it before heading to the bar.

6. The Setting

When you're in college: You're probably at a rager thrown by the neighborhood frat. There will be red cups strewn about, broken bottles in the driveway, Dropkick Murphys playing the background, and people puking on the sidewalk as you stumble home.

When you're an adult: You probably hit the neighborhood pub. There will be pint glasses strewn about until the server collects them, maybe one broken bottle near the dance floor until the bus boy sweeps it up, Dropkick Murphys playing in the background, and people who come close to puking will be tossed onto the sidewalk as you take an Uber home.

7. The Hangover

When you're in college: You will wake up without any memory of how many beverages you consumed, with whom you swapped spit, and how the hell you even got home. It's all a sloppy blur. But somehow, you're in zero pain and can get the party started within 10 minutes if you can round up the crew.

When you're an adult: You wake up with a throbbing noggin, a frothy layer of yuck on your tongue, and you can remember all three drinks you had. You regret every single one of them now, because you need to go to work within an hour and have no idea how you're supposed to apply makeup in between barf sessions. Never again, you'll say. Never. Again.

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