The Chicago Tribune ranks the St. Patrick’s Day as number one on the top 10 list of drinking holidays. It’s hard to go through the month of March without seeing shamrocks, green beer, and other drinking décor associated with this holiday that is supposed to celebrate Irish heritage. St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) dates back to the life of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, who was born in the late 4th century. Born in Britain, he was kidnapped at the age of 16 and taken to Ireland as a slave. He died on March 17, 461 after a life of resistance converting the Irish to Christianity after escaping slavery and establishing a plethora of monasteries, churches, and schools. Old wives’ tales say that St. Patrick use the shamrock to explain the Trinity and that he drove snakes out of Ireland. Following his death, the day was celebrated by Irish citizens with religious services and feasts.
It was actually immigrants to the United States who transformed St. Patrick’s Day into a secular holiday based around drinking and anything green. U.S. cities with large numbers of Irish immigrants like Boston and New York started hosting elaborate celebrations and parades in the 1700’s. Christians were encouraged to put aside their Lent-imposed dietary restrictions and indulge in food and alcohol consumption on this day. As St. Patrick Day evolved, the holiday took on a more tourist-like look and feel with alcohol being the center of it.
For many of us, myself included, who look forward to celebrating our Irish heritage, we have to wade our way through a sea of beer and alcohol-saturated St. Patrick’s Day events. Unfortunately, this is the reality of celebrating St. Paddy’s Day, but there are some steps you can take to ensure you survive this holiday without the booze.
1. Research the true history of St. Paddy’s Day
Researching and learning about the history of this awesome holiday has personally helped me connect with my Irish heritage. Learning about why this holiday exists, who Saint Patrick was, and what he did reveals the true spirit of the holiday. When it seems like everyone just drinks green beer in his name, it’s helpful to remember why you’re actually celebrating. It provides comfort knowing that the real meaning of the holiday has nothing to do with alcohol.
2. Embrace green
You can still wear shamrocks, green gear, and even embrace the Spring season which is known for greenery. Because St. Paddy’s Day falls near the Spring Equinox it’s a perfect reason to get outside and celebrate nature. Even if there is still snow on the ground you can find comfort in the fact that winter’s end is near. You can plant a garden, a tree, or buy flowers for your house. Embrace the color green!
3. Bring your own non-alcoholic green drink
If attending a St. Patrick’s Day party is a must in your life, you should be prepared with your own non-alcoholic green drink. Don’t let the experience take you by surprise. If you know booze will be present, then it’s your responsibility to bring your own non-alcoholic drink options. This could be non-alcoholic beer, sparkling water, or mocktails, and yes, you can even dye your drinks green too. Keep yourself safe, bring non-alcoholic drinks with you so you aren’t tempted by the booze.
4. Make your own St. Paddy’s Day celebration
If you’re worried about attending booze-soaked holiday parties, you should ask yourself whether it’s really worth it to attend. Is the work event mandatory? Do you need to be at your gym social? Is St. Paddy’s Day happy hour actually going to be fun? Planning your own sober St. Paddy’s Day celebration removes the anxiety of not knowing how you’ll be triggered by the booze around you. If it’s at your house, you get to decide whether people are or aren’t allowed to bring and drink alcohol. You get to decide when it begins and ends. You also get to decide what kind of activities will take place. Take St. Paddy’s Day into your own hands.
5. Remember it’s just another day
This gives me comfort on any holiday or day where a special event is happening, and I feel overwhelmed at the sight of booze. In the big scheme of things St. Paddy’s Day is just another day on the calendar, a random Sunday where you can be resting, recharging and preparing for the week ahead. Not every event or holiday requires a huge celebration, or emphasis. You don’t have to go to the parade or the party just because it’s what you’ve always done. If you’re sober and times are different, it’s 100 percent ok to do your holidays differently too. I won’t tell anyone that you didn’t wear green or wear shamrocks!
This St. Patrick’s Day remember it’s not all about the booze! You can celebrate, or not, and remain sober, confident, and sane! There will be many of us around the world doing the exact same thing.
Kelly Fitzgerald Junco
Kelly Fitzgerald Junco is a sober writer based in Southwest Florida who is best known for her personal blog The Adventures of a Sober Señorita. Her work has been published across the web including sites like The Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, Ravishly, SheKnows, Elite Daily, The Fix, Brit + Co, Addiction Unscripted and AfterPartyMagazine. She is currently writing a memoir.