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!
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!
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10 thoughts on “Ways to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day that Don’t Require Drinking”
Oh my gosh! I’m so glad I found this page, finally a kindred spirit! I absolutely love Irish mythology and the music has had my heart since I was little. I’ve only recently started reading from the works of W.B. Yeats, but he’s already one of my favorite poets! The poem of his I like most is “He wishes for the cloths of heaven”, it’s just so beautiful! So don’t worry, you’re not alone when you say you’d fangirl if you ever met Yeats or Gregory. Speaking of which, I have been seeking a copy of both the “Fairy and Folktales of the Irish Peasantry” and “Mythologies” by Yeats as well as “Gods and Fighting Men” and “Cúchulainn of
Muirthemne” by Lady Gregory. But I’ll definitly check out the book you’ve mentioned above! Sorry if this all sounds like a bunch or rambling, but I’m just so glad I read this, it made my day!
Aww! You made my day! If you need more recommendations for Irish mythology sources, I have an MA in Irish Studies. I can save you about $80k in tuition 😛 I actually was able to visit Yeat’s grave last year when I went back to Ireland, and I was so overcome that I burst into tears. So, I did fangirl!
“Lady Gregory’s Complete Irish Mythology” is “Gods and Fighting Men” and “Cúchulainn of Myirthemne” in one volume. I think the links to the books in the post take you to the Amazon links for them (they are affiliate links, just so you’re aware!) I’ve also picked up “Fairy and Folktales of the Irish Peasantry” at Barnes and Noble more than once. If you have any questions, please let me know! Sláinte!
I am in need a few good book recommendations actually. Do you know any good books that talk about Ireland’s lesser known myths? Those are always the best little gems! Something I’ve learned from experience.
I’ve always wanted to travel to Ireland! I remember hearing they actually have a W.B. Yeats trail somewhere in Sligo? Having been there before, do you know if this is true? Still, I can only imagine what it must’ve felt like to visit his burial site. Another pilgrimage I’ve been very eager to make is the 5 1/2 mile Tolkien Trail in England.
And I’d be happy to get those links, wether they be affiliate or not, I need those books! 😂
I too enjoy shopping at my local Barnes and Noble and recently bought a little booklet titled “Poems of the Irish People”. Some of my favorite poems from Yeats were in there, of course, such as Stolen Child, The Lake Isle of Innisfree, and The Song of Wandering Aengus.
If you click on the names of the books in the blogs, those are links. They will take you right to the page! Another book I would recommend is “The Táin” translated by Thomas Kinsella. This is definitely not a “lesser” known story, but necessary to understand a lot of the references in many other stories. It’s also on Amazon. As for lesser known stories, they mainly revolve around the Faerie, or the Good People and you’ll find most of them in folklore. Also, if you look up faerie such as the Selkie, Bean Sídhe, etc. When I was a teenager, I had a book called The Oracle that was Irish mythology and it’s what started my obsession. I don’t have the book now and I can’t find it anywhere. I’ve been searching for almost 20 years. It’s like it never existed. But, if you focus on the bigger myths, the smaller stories tend to reveal themselves to you as if by magic. And there are also some interesting variations of the larger myths.
There is a Yeats trail in Sligo. There are several amazing places around the area that are sites of his writings or deeply connected to the Tuatha de Dannan. I have to go back, because I didn’t even get to half of them! Ben Bulben is nothing short of mythic. There is also a Tain trail further South with some incredible sites.
If you really like Irish poetry, one of my favorite poets is Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill. She only writes in Irish, and only allows certain poets to translate her work into English. So, if you can’t read Irish then you can read the translations and know they’re legit. Also, you can look up videos of her on YouTube where she’s reading her work so you can hear the Irish. I definitely recommend it even if you can’t understand it.
Oh, yes, I see the links. I’ve never heard of The Táin, I’m a bit disappointed in myself. 😂 But I’ll look for it on Amazon. And yes, the faerie-centered stories are my favorites and are exactly what I was looking for when I mentioned lesser-known stories. I also love to study the variations of different Celtic myths, so I’m happy to take recommendations on books that include such as well.
And traveling that trail is one thing to add to my bucket list, just going to see Ireland in general is, I love the tales of the Tuatha de Dannan.
Omg, I do indeed love Irish and Celtic poetry, but I’ve never heard of Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill! What is wrong with me today? 😂😬 I’ve actually been trying to learn Irish, it’s a little complex, though that could be because I’m learning two other languages beside it. But I’ll without a doubt get the translations and listen to those videos. Wether I can understand it or not, if such things mattered to me I wouldn’t be listing to all the music sung in that beautiful language that I do!
Thank you so much for all of your help and for answering all of my questions. Once again, I found it refreshing to be able to speak someone who loves the Irish myths and cultures just as much as I do!
Update: I actually have heard of the Táin (I just looked it up) only not by that name. 😂
Yeah, that’s the Irish for it. Irish is HARD to learn, especially outside of Ireland, so don’t be discouraged. I studied it in grad school, and have been continuing with it, and I still have the Irish of a toddler when I try to speak it with a native speaker.
I just found this blog: https://faerieofireland.home.blog/. Orla is a folklorist taking on the work of her grandfather. Here are some of the lesser known stories you were looking for!
Thank you so much! I’ve found quite a few little gems on that site, and I’ve started to delve much deeper into the world of Celtic mythology that I almost forgot to thank you! So, knowing that you’re a fellow Yeats fan, I thought you might like this link into the gift shop for The Yeats Society! There’s a lot of beautiful, handcrafted jewelry made after Yeats’ poems.
I’ve only recently found out about it myself, but I thought I might share it as a way to show my appreciation for your help.
Aww thank you! <3 I actually need to just write a whole post on Irish mythology sources, and I have my own faery story to share. I’ll be posting stuff soon since I have some time coming up.
You’re most welcome.
And that’s aweosme! I Can’t wait to read them when they’re released. Especially when it comes to Irish mythological sources, in any kind of mythology I’ve studied, I love tracing the tales and beliefs back to the source through ancient times to see how they first started! And I’ve actually taken up writing my own myths and legends as well, it’s such a beautiful art, and I hope to be well learned in it someday. Since at the moment I’m a bit of a newbie. 😅