March 17th honors Saint Patrick, the most recognized Patron Saint in Ireland. Until Dublin launched it’s multi-day Patrick’s festival in 1996, however, celebrations in the country were nearly non-existent.
Most of what we think of when it comes to Saint Patrick’s day is actually American, drinking green beer, eating corn hash and wearing “Kiss me, I’m Irish!” t-shirts in particular. No matter where you are on the day, here are a few things you can do to join in the festivities:
1. Wear a hint of green
A scarf or hat will do, while wearing head to toe green may be scary. You can follow tradition and pinch those who aren’t wearing green, but forewarn people first!
2. Go to church
In Ireland, there is always a morning mass in honor of Saint Patrick.
3.Wish on a four-leaf clover
The three-leaf clover or Shamrock is the symbol of Ireland, but four-leaf clovers are considered to bring good luck. Make a wish and if you dare, tuck one in the bottom of your shoe and the first person you see will supposedly fall in love with you!
4. Eat Irish Soda bread and Stew
These are both staples in the Irish diet. Soda bread is made with baking soda as opposed to yeast. Irish stew consists of lamb, beef or mutton, potatoes, carrots, onions and parsley. Traditional Irish food is simple and hearty, so dig in.
5. Watch Gaelic football
This hybrid of rugby and football draws more spectators than any other sport in Ireland. It is one of the world’s oldest sports, with records of it being played in 1308. Although there are teams in New York and London, it is mainly an Irish game. Try watching a match on television.
6. Go to a parade
Attending a parade is one of the most fun ways to celebrate Saint Paddy’s. In the United States, there are parades throughout many of the countries’ major cities, including Boston and New York. In Chicago, officials even dye the Chicago river green in honor of the day. The largest Saint Patrick’s day in Canada is in Montreal, but celebrations occur in New Foundland and Toronto as well. There are multiple celebrations throughout Great Britain, Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester, which hosts a two-week festival prior to the day and promotes itself as the largest outside of Dublin.
7. Drink Guinness
Guinness is arguably Ireland’s most famous beer. Sharing a pint with friends and family may be one of the most traditional Irish activities you can participate in outside of the country. Remember to raise your glass and say “Sláinte!” – a Gaelic toast, meaning to your health.
Photo of one of the St Patrick’s Day Parades outside Ireland by Wigwam Jones.