Alcohol-Free Ways to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day 

Shandra Martinez

| 4 min read

Caucasian woman dressed in green with shamrock glasses for st patrick's day laughing
Once only seen as a religious holiday in Ireland, it’s no secret that descendants of the Irish who emigrated to the United States have helped to turn St. Patrick’s Day into a celebration of the wearin’ o’ the green – as well as pints of beer, shots of whiskey and all kinds of festive Irish-themed cocktails. But somewhere in the middle of all this celebration is a beer and liquor-free middle ground with plenty of fun to be had. Whether you’re seeking more kid-friendly ideas or you are looking for sober activities, we’ll show you some alcohol-free ways to have fun on the holiday.

What is St. Patrick’s Day?

The Feast of St. Patrick began as a religious holiday on March 17 to recognize the death of St. Patrick. He is a patron saint of Ireland and is known for spreading Christianity through the island. People wear green in his honor on St. Patrick’s Day. In Ireland, people still pin shamrocks on their lapel on this special day.

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations

Early celebrations of St. Patrick revolved around a Mass in Catholic churches to mark the day. In Ireland, the day has evolved to include celebrations of cultural pride, parades, floats and more. In the United States, the holiday has become synonymous with a big party atmosphere. Cities that are home to many Irish-Americans are known for the largest festivities. Boston and New York host annual parades to mark the holiday. Chicago does, too, and is known for dyeing its river bright green as a hat-tip to St. Patrick.
To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, here are some ideas that leave the mini-bar behind:
Non-alcoholic buffet: There are so many no-alcohol pre-packaged drinks on the market, and St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are a great time to try them out. Some examples:
  • Non-alcoholic beer
  • No or low-alcohol wines
  • Tasty “mocktails” that are great for sipping
  • Sparkling juices
  • Tonic water with lime
  • Seltzer with a shot of green apple or mint syrup
Celtic music: Ireland is known for its beautiful music, and there’s a lot more to be heard than a lovely rendition of “Danny Boy.” From acoustic melodies using traditional instruments to the sounds of harpists, there are plenty of traditional songs to serve as a backdrop to dinnertime or a remote work day. Want to get energized? Select a few songs from The Chieftains. Ready to rock? Find songs by Flogging Molly or the Dropkick Murphys and tap play.
An Irish dinner: Serving up a taste of Ireland is a great way to honor St. Patrick’s Day. Whether you choose Irish stew with tender chunks of lamb, potatoes and carrots, or go for a traditional plate of bangers and mash – dense sausages with fluffy mashed potatoes – you know you’re getting a helping of Old-World flavor. What about the perennial favorite of corned beef and cabbage? It turns out, it was not really a staple of old-time Ireland, according to the Smithsonian Magazine. Slow-simmered dinners of corned beef, cabbage, carrots and potatoes were introduced to Irish immigrant tables in the U.S., likely because they lived near Jewish butchers and could get this type of kosher brisket meat inexpensively.
Irish dancing: The Irish are famous the world over for their fancy footwork. Fast-stepping, high-kicking Celtic dancing is always on display on St. Patrick’s Day. If you’ve got a local Irish dance club, set aside time to catch a performance. Or find a Riverdance dancing performance on TV or online. Want to try a few steps for yourself? Find a how-to video on YouTube and teach yourself some Irish dancing moves.
Irish travel and history: Unless you can jet away for a trip to the Emerald Isle, you might have to be satisfied with just getting an eyeful of Ireland’s beauty through one of the many documentaries or Irish travel specials typical on TV this time of year. Use them to see new places and brush up on your Irish history. Have some Irish ancestry? Make it a family project to research your relatives’ history. Use some online sleuthing to find out about the places they lived and when they emigrated.
Photo credit: Getty Images

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