Today, March 17, is St Patrick's Day. Let’s start with the who, hows and whys, so you know what it is that is being celebrated! St Patrick is claimed to be the patron saint of Ireland, and the saint who brought Christianity to Ireland. It’s thought he died on March 17 sometime in the 5th century, although the celebration of this date as St Patrick’s Day originates in the 17th century.
It all came about after the Vatican decided, in 1631, to recognise the date of March 17. In the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, the British Overseas Territory of Montserrat and the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, everyone enjoys a public holiday on St Patrick’s Day. But in most places around the world, although there is no official day off work, the day is still seen as a reason to celebrate St Patrick’s Day style. St Patrick’s Day became an Irish public holiday in 1904 although until the mid-1960s many pubs stayed shut on the actual day. It’s only since the Americans, who love a reason to celebrate a nation such as Ireland, became involved that the day has become such a worldwide carnival.
What St Patrick’s Day means for most people is wearing something green or connected to Ireland, such as a shamrock, and drinking lots of Guinness or stout. International drinks company Diageo reports that more than 13 million pints of stout are drunk across the world on St Patrick’s Day.
9 great ways to celebrate St Patrick’s Day
Know more: Find out what it is you are celebrating. (PS You could follow the quick guide above.) Go green: Wear an item of green clothing, such as a green t-shirt, or go the full hog and dress up in a leprechaun outfit! Many people choose to wear a green hat and a red beard for full effect. Others keep it simple with a shamrock badge, tiepin, or earrings. (Shamrocks are said to be lucky charms.)
Learn the lingo: There are some typical Irish words and phrases, such as “What's the craic?”, which means,"How's it going?" and “Grand”, which is a multi-purpose for good, great, wonderful.
Learn to dance: Irish dancing is not the easiest format to learn but you could have a lot of fun trying. It’s also a great way to burn off the calories of all the Guinness you are likely to consume today! Join a local Irish dancing class if there is one or follow “how to “guides online.
Join a parade: A five-day festival in Dublin is the place to head if you want to join in almost a week of St Patrick’s Day festivities. Smaller local parades take place in many other places across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland on the actual day with all sorts of fun to get involved with and watch.
Drink Guinness: Of course, we don’t mean you need to drink to excess – St Patrick’s Day is often linked to over-indulgence of the black stuff – but a half or a full pint of the traditional Irish drink of stout is a must-do if you are celebrating St Patrick’s Day. There are plenty of Irish themed pubs that you could go to for a more authentic experience. An alternative to Guinness is to drink Irish whiskey or cup after cup of Irish tea. Tradition has it that Irish people are obsessive tea drinkers.
Make green cakes: Even if you are not off work because you are living outside of Scotland, you could take green-iced cakes to the office and celebrate with a coffee and cake.
Do St Patrick’s Day for charity: Get people to sponsor you for wearing an outrageous fancy dress outfit for the day – or even the week – or pledge to run a 10k dressed as a leprechaun. You could make green-themed cakes and sell them to colleagues or school friends to raise funds for a chosen charity.
Book an Irish holiday: If you have never been to Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland make St Patrick’s Day the day that you book a trip. How does Antrim Glens and the Causeway Coast grab you? Or the Dublin & Wicklow Way Short Break? Both trips will treat you to many wonders and amazing landscapes.
This post was originally published in March 2015