The green beer. The tacky hats. The “I’m Not Drunk, I’m Irish!” shirts. You know these things. Most people in the U.S. celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by dressing in green, covering themselves in glitter (which I have no objection to— I love glitter!) speaking in horribad “Irish” accents, and getting drunk out of their minds. Do what you want and be safe (please be safe), but if that isn’t your style, then I have some other suggestions for how you can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and make it magical whether you’re Irish or not. No alcohol required, so if you’re a non-drinker, you can still have fun!
The suggestions I have will work for Catholics, pagans, non-religious, and even the non-Irish who just love Ireland as much as I do. And you can do all of these things with friends, or someone special, or on your own. For me, it’s a day to focus on things that speak to my soul. So, let St. Patrick’s Day be a time to do something cool— something that you will actually remember the next morning! 😛
I love Ireland. LOVE IRELAND! So much so that I have a degree in Irish folklore and mythology. Last summer, I finally got to visit for three weeks, and it blew all of my ridiculously high expectations right out of the water. I cried the whole plane ride back. I can’t wait to return, but until then, I will take any excuse to immerse myself in Irish magicalness. St. Patrick’s Day is a perfect excuse!
Make it Mythic!
My fascination with Ireland started with the myths and folklore. You know about leprechauns, and how St. Patrick chased the snakes out of Ireland (If you don’t know—spoiler alert! This is a myth! There were never any snakes in Ireland. That’s another blog….) But do you know about the hero Cú Chulainn or the Tuatha Dé Danann, or bean sidhe and selkies? The best way to hear these stories is to listen to a seanchaí — a traditional Irish storyteller. But if you don’t have one of those available, then the next best thing would be Lady Gregory’s Complete Irish Mythology. Whether you are new to Irish folklore or you’re a nerdy scholar of it like me, this book should be in your library. Just sit down with a cup of Barry’s Tea and pick a myth to get lost in. Or read the stories aloud with friends and become your own seanchaí! Another great book to choose is Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry, by my home boy, W.B. Yeats. If these two people were alive today and I got to meet them, I’d be a hot fan-girl mess. I know, I know. I’m a nerd.
It’s St. Patrick’s Day, so Go Green!
Another way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day is to honor local nature spirits and faerie where you live. Spend some time outdoors, go on a hike, and bring a gift to leave the faerie. It can be a song, a pretty stone, a little cake with honey, or something you made yourself. Just avoid iron. Faeries aren’t fond of it. When my husband and I were in Ireland, we stopped for picnics everywhere. In every spot, we left a portion of our food (fruit, nuts, bread, and cheese) and picked up a piece of trash if there was any, to thank the Little People. We had some profound experiences because we were respectful and kind, and the locals (human and faerie) responded to that. Cleaning up a natural space is a wonderful way to honor nature. Maybe you’ll even find a fairy ring! They say you’re not supposed to step inside, or you’ll be taken by the faeries, but it’s too late for me. They got me!
So, instead of spending all your time in a bar on St. Patrick’s day, spend some of it outside in nature! Get your green on!
Make some Art!
Perhaps art is more your thing? You could make your own illuminated manuscript of your favorite spell or prayer. Ireland is known for its beautiful Celtic knots and illuminated manuscripts. The Book of Kells is an amazing source of inspiration with its vibrant colors and intricate designs intertwined with calligraphy and mesmerizing Celtic knots. I get lost in my copy of The Book of Kells by Bernard Meehan.
I’ll be honest, I haven’t read much of it because I get so pulled into the illustrations. It’s a meditative exercise just gazing at the pages of The Book of Kells. St. Patrick himself would approve.
Another book for artists is the Great Book of Celtic Patterns, by Lora S. Irish. This one is more of a tutorial and resource for creating your own designs, with some historical and modern examples. There’s lots of great inspiration here, and creating knot art can be a really powerful tool for meditation and magick!
The Great Book of Celtic Patterns is one of those books that any artist (of any kind) will love to play with.
Make some Music!
For musicians, why not start an Irish music playlist this St. Patrick’s Day? Whether your vibe is Dropkick Murphys or Celtic Woman, Irish music is awesome. Bonus points for spontaneous step-dancing battles with your friends! Or learn to play the tin whistle. It’s something you could pick up and play on day one, but with practice, you could play amazingly complex songs. Also, it’s a traditional Irish instrument that’s a lot easier (and cheaper) to get your hands on than a harp or Uilleann bagpipes, and there are lots of free tutorials online.
I hope that one of these ideas inspires you to try something out of the ordinary for St. Patrick’s Day! Whether you honor St. Patrick himself, or Brigid, or just have fun exploring whatever piece of Irish culture speaks to you, you will have a magical time with it. Ireland is a place steeped in magic, and it seeps into your soul no matter your spiritual path. Let me know what you plan to do!
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and buy something, I may receive a small commission.