St. Patrick's Day is one of America's biggest hangover-inducing holidays. But if you wake up feeling greener than your Uncle Seamus' shamrock, you might need to prepare better.
A party-hardy group committed to minimizing the stomach-churning day-after-St.-Paddy's-Day blahs is urging Americans to participate in a 12-day bender beginning Monday, March 5, called "Cinco de Marcho."
Cinco de Marcho officially began in 2007 at a Mexican bar in Tucker, Ga., called The Matador, according to the event's creator, a neuromuscular therapist who calls himself "Carlos Fantastico" ("It's a variation of the Mexican title of 'Night Rider': 'Caro Fantastico,'" he explained).
"The holiday grew out of necessity," Fantastico told HuffPost Weird News. "I don't drink much, but I had some friends coming for St. Patrick's Day who did, so I thought I better start training my liver in advance, starting March 5."
Like the increasing gifts over the 12 Days of Christmas, wannabe boozehounds are encouraged to celebrate the 12 days between Cinco de Marcho and St. Patrick's Day by drinking a little more alcohol each day.
"It's not about excess drinking," Fantastico insisted. "It's about drinking until you know your limits."
It's also a tribute to the great American tradition of twisting and subverting traditional holidays from elsewhere. That's why "Cinco de Marcho participants are encouraged to haphazardly mix and match Irish and Mexican clothes and colors, hence the preponderance of green sombreros with shamrocks, corn beef tacos and salsa music mixed with Irish jigs.
"Some people are offended that we combine the traditions, but cultural distortion is the point," Fantastico said. "We're not making fun of Mexico and Ireland. We're having fun with the distortions."
This year marks the sixth anniversary of the first Cinco de Marcho and Fantastico said that besides the party he is holding at The Matador, there will be satellite gatherings in Athens, Ga.; Windsor, Ontario; and Phoenix.
Although drinking establishments stand to benefit, Cinco de Marcho leaves a bad taste in the mouth of some committed drinkers, including journalist Edwin Decker, a former bartender himself.
"Real drinkers don’t need a holiday to think of reasons to drink. We certainly don’t need to invent one," he griped to HuffPost Weird News.
"In fact, holidays tend to get in the way of real drinkers drinking, really. As everyone knows, drinking holidays tend to attract rookies, who fill up the bars, cause a big commotion, and don’t know how to order drinks, making it impossible to get your drinks in a timely fashion. They also tend not to be able to hold their liquor, causing more problems and aggravation for real drinkers," said Decker.
"I'll take a slow Monday night, in the dead of winter, off-holiday, with three or four veteran lushes hunched over their glasses than a packed Cinco de St. Patty’s New Year's night any day," he added.
Decker does concede there may be some merit to Fantastico's theory of training the liver in advance. "If I haven't been drinking for a while, the easing into it seems to help, but I certainly don't want any more rookies out there," he said.
The theory of preparing the liver does hold water -- in an unwise way -- according to alcohol researcher Maury Cole.
"Sure, you can build up your tolerance to alcohol," he said. "But then you're an alcoholic. There's no point to doing it for this holiday just so you can get there faster."
Fantastico insists that Cinco de Marcho is not meant to promote overindulgence, but to help people find their "sweet spot." In fact, he said the actual inspiration was not related to alcohol at all.
"If Cinco de Marcho can become as popular as 'Talk Like a Pirate Day,' I'll be happy," he said.