Ways to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day that Don’t Require Drinking

Ways to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day that Don’t Require Drinking

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!

Kerry Ireland countryside, landscape with green hills, lakes, mountains, and a tree
This is one of the places we stopped to have a picnic in Kerry, Ireland. I dare you to tell me this place isn’t magic!

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.

Lady Gregory's Complete Irish Mythology, Barry's Tea, The Book of Kells, Celtic books
Look at those page flags! I’ve marked my favorite stories.

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!

fairy house surrounded by offerings to the faeries in Derrynane, Ireland
Here is an actual Fairy House that was on a fairy walk in the woods. You can see some of the offerings people have left— shells, stones, pretty flowers, and even the house itself!
Blythe holding a fairy trail map and a cup of coffee in Derrynane, Ireland
I’m on a Fairy Trail because I’m an adult and this is how I party!

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.

The Book of Kells, St. Patrick's Day reading
This is a beautiful collection of the artwork in The Book of Kells.
detail page of The Book of Kells. Illuminated manuscript, calligraphy
Here’s one of the pages. I could study this for hours!

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!

Great Book of Celtic Patterns book with a celtic knot drawing and watercolors.
Ever wanted to figure out how to draw those complicated knots? This will show you how!

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.

tin whistle, sheet music, irish music, and ogham
I got this tin whistle for under $10 and the music for free. Someday I will actually be able to play “The Butterfly!”

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!



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