If you're Irish or even if you just wish you were, nothing kicks off the spring season quite like a great St. Patrick's Day celebration does. Our greenest holiday falls on Thursday, March 17th – which means it might be a long weekend of celebrating with friends and family.
Hosting a gathering and need some help getting prepared? You're in luck. We've put together some basic tips to help you get ready, as well as a little background on St. Patrick's Day itself so that when the day arrives, you can show off some of your Irish trivia knowledge.
A little history
Most people know St. Patrick as the patron saint of Ireland, but they may not know that he wasn't born Irish. While nobody can agree on whether he was Scottish or Roman, it's likely that St. Patrick's real name was Maewyn Succat (born in the second half of the 4th century AD) – and we totally get the name change, as "Everyone's Irish on Maewyn Succat Day!" just doesn't have the same ring to it.
The story goes that Patrick was kidnapped by pirates as a boy. Sold into slavery, he soon found himself in Ireland. It was during this period that Patrick first dreamed of having seen God.
Through murky circumstances, Patrick somehow managed to escape Ireland. He spent 12 years training in a monastery in France before dreaming that the Irish were calling him back to spread the faith. With the blessing of the pope himself, Patrick returned to the country he had escaped.
"The first St. Patrick's Day parade happened centuries after Patrick became Ireland's patron saint."
He proved to be a very good messenger. Much to the displeasure of the Celtic druids, Patrick converted the mostly pagan Gaelic Irish to Christianity in large numbers. Not only that, but even the royal families were swayed by his zeal. Patrick spent decades traveling the countryside, establishing monasteries, schools, and churches wherever he went.
After Patrick died, he was named Ireland's patron saint. It would be a long time before anyone ever really celebrated a day in his honor, however. Irish soldiers serving in the British military were actually the first to hold a St. Patrick's Day parade. They did so in 1762 in New York, by marching down Broadway. Soon afterwards the celebration became the tradition we know today.
Now that you know why St. Patrick's Day is celebrated, it's time to to prepare some invitations. Make them memorable. Since your invitations set the bar for guests' expectations, you want to get them excited. Choose a design with shamrocks, leprechauns or, failing that, just lots of green. Jubilant invitations will help to make your event extra special.
Anyone who has grown up in an Irish family will be the first to tell you that traditional Irish fare does not always make for an appetizing St. Patrick's Day party. While corned beef & cabbage, lamb chops, shepherd's pie, and Irish lamb stew may appeal to some guests, a safer bet would be to tinge party favorites – particularly desserts – with green food coloring.
Before you get too crazy on March 17th, remember that even the best online car insurance doesn't protect you from mistakes made on the road. That said, for many people, the holiday just isn't complete without some proper Irish stout (especially if it's made festive with more of that green food coloring) or a fun shamrock cocktail. After you're done celebrating, dial up an Uber or Lyft for the ride home. That way you can have a great time and stay safe.
There are few things better than a St. Patrick's Day bash featuring traditional Celtic or Irish music, the sounds of which will have you leaping like a leprechaun. If you're looking for something a bit more contemporary, you've got plenty of options, from Enya to Sinead O'Connor. Of course, we can't forget to mention U2, one of the most famous Irish bands of all time.
Whether it's table cloths and napkins in various shades of green, paper shamrocks, streamers or balloons, a St. Patrick's Day party is at its best when it boasts the joy only decorations can bring. Little pots of golden-wrapped chocolate coins are sure to keep children of all ages happy to find what's at the end of the rainbow.