Shamrocks, Leprechauns and green beer — yep, it’s St. Patrick’s Day. While most people celebrate the holiday by going to their local Irish pub, or anywhere they serve green beer, there are many other ways to commemorate the day. Going to a bar and raising a glass, or two, is one way to get festive, but if you aren’t a beer drinker or don’t like crowded bars, then we’ve got a few other ideas for you to observe this St. Patty’s Day.
The Origins of St. Patrick’s Day
St. Patrick’s Day honors St. Patrick, the man who is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland and believed to have driven the snakes out of the country. The day is based on the original Christian saint’s feast day and is also the day thought to be the date of St. Patrick’s death. In 1737, Irish immigrants in the United States started publicly observing this day as a holiday in Boston and in 1766, held the first St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York City.
A couple centuries later, St. Patrick’s Day has evolved from a way of honoring a saint, to an excuse to drink all day long, which is probably why everyone wants to be Irish on March 17. If you enjoy your beer green and your bars crowed, then head out to your local pub and throw a few back. Even bars that aren’t considered Irish get in on the act so you can celebrate anywhere. Of course, it’s more fun at a pub, where there are generally bag pipers, Irish music, corned beef, cabbage and Irish stew.
Everyone Loves a Parade
Many cities hold festive parades including the above mentioned Boston and New York, as well as other cities across the country, such as San Diego, San Francisco and Chicago. Just check the dates, as many of the parades are held the weekend before or at other times during the month, and enjoy marching bands, bag pipers, floats and probably some green beer.
Fun Runs & Walks
Get some exercise in the name of St. Patrick by running through the streets of your town while crowds gather in green to cheer you on. For example, Baltimore, Maryland will hold a Shamrock 5k run on March 16, as will St. Paul, Minnesota where you can participate in a 5K, 8K or youth run, and in St. Louis, Missouri a five mile run is scheduled where over 7,000 participants are expected on the 15th.
Get to Stepping
Make like Michael Flatley and channel your inner Lord of the Dance by signing up for an Irish dance class. There’s no better time to learn how to step-dance then on St. Patrick’s day (or any time in March really) and there are many studios that offer lessons throughout the country.
Celebrate your Irish roots by going to an Irish Festival. With St. Patrick’s Day looming, many areas hold festivals and fairs throughout the month of March. Here you’ll experience bag pipers, Irish music, old world athletic competitions, dancers and — of course — traditional Irish fare.
Visit the Motherland
Why not celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by experiencing the real thing? See how authentic Irishmen (and women) honor the day first hand by taking that long awaited trip to Ireland.
Ireland on Celluloid
Instead of heading out and fighting the crowds at the local pub, why not stay in? Grab some Guinness, make some Irish stew and watch a film to go along with the day. Just to name a couple, there’s the classic cheesy horror flick, “Leprechaun,” the St. Patrick inspired, “Snakes on a Plane” where Samuel Jackson drives snakes off the…well…plane, and “Waking Ned Divine,” a sweet little film about a resident in an Irish town winning the lottery.
Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day
March 17 is a great day to be, or pretend to be Irish, and while it’s fun to head out to a bar, it doesn’t have to be all about drinking. Find different ways to celebrate your Celtic roots and create your own traditions in the process.