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An In-Depth Look at Irish Traditions for St. Patrick’s Day

Besides the obvious tie to St. Patty’s Day, there are actually quite a lot of Irish traditions that go into celebrating. With some (okay, a lot) of help from a very Irish friend of mine, I’ve compiled a list of a few of the fun and sometimes wacky St. Patrick’s Day traditions to enrich your cultural knowledge of this green holiday.

            Obviously the Irish like their alcohol, so St. Patty’s Day is always chock full of bar-hopping, booze-slinging and merry drunkenness, not to mention the festive parades and parties that encourage it. I’ve been informed by my (leprechaun) friend, Kayla, that the preferred drinks of choice are Guinness and Baileys. So, for those of you who are legal (because we would wouldn’t want to encourage underage drinking, no matter how lax your family may be), this is the perfect day to enjoy a Car Bomb or five. You can find a super easy recipe here, and they even sell glasses with magnets at the bottom so you don’t take a shot glass to the face (literally)!

            The other obvious and widespread St. Patrick’s Day tradition can be summed up in one word: Green. Everywhere you go, there’s going to be green. Green outfits, green beer, and even green water. Fun fact: Chicago dyes its river water green for the occasion—that’s what I call dedication. Kayla tells me that a smaller family tradition involves the dying of milk, on the premise that leprechauns have in fact invaded one’s house and infiltrated the milk supply. And from personal experience, I can confirm that green bagels are indeed a real thing (go check out your local grocery chain if you don’t trust me) and are still just as delicious!

            Arguably the most important part of the day—between you and I—is dinner. St. Patrick’s Day brings with it a ton of interesting foods and creations that are really only enjoyed this one day a year. Many families cook corned beef and cabbage, the two biggest Irish dinner staples, as well as boiled potatoes, Irish stew, Shepard’s pie, Colcannon, and Irish soda bread. All of these delicious foods have simple and flavorful recipes that can be found with the click of a button, too.

            If you’re not in one of the major celebratory cities like Boston, Philadelphia, or New Orleans, there are still ways to enjoy the day! A lot of towns and cities still have parades, and many dye the parade route green just to add a little flare. Many families get together or throw parties for the holiday, and you can bet the bars will be open with welcoming arms. If the party/parade thing isn’t really your scene, staying in with your family isn’t always a total bore. Kayla’s family enjoys watching the vocal group known as the Irish Tenors perform (and if you’ve never heard them, you should definitely check them out), while Kayla, being a little more of a black sheep, doesn’t miss out on the Dropkick Murphys performance either.

            St. Patrick’s Day is also widely acknowledged in schools, and it’s heartwarming to see kids learning about other cultures and traditions. Many elementary school kids participate in making “leprechaun traps” in school or making decorative crafts, filling up their homes with green four-leaf clovers and leprechaun hats. And none of us can deny that continual hope that every rainbow we see leads to a pot of gold…sometimes it’s the little things that keep us going, and for that we should be grateful.

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