5 traditional ways to spend St. Patrick’s Day this year
St. Patrick’s Day is an event all people know about; after all, it is not only a beloved Irish holiday but also the most popular national day in the world, celebrated every year on the 17th of March, the Saint's death day, on every continent. From a 16-year-old boy that was kidnapped and enslaved to a bishop that brought Christianity to Ireland, St. Patrick is for sure a historic figure not only every Irish but also people from all over the world should be familiar with. Today, however, St. Patrick's Day is more than just a commemoration of the nation's patron Saint; it's also a celebration of our Irish culture and traditions. Here in Ireland, schools are normally closed on March 17th, and most people are given a day off from work to spend time with their families. Whether you want to learn more about the celebration or are looking for information on the day's customs, here are 5 traditional ways to spend St. Patrick's Day this year.
Going to a parade
For generations, attending a parade has been a traditional way of commemorating St. Patrick's Day. Surprisingly, this custom began in the United States, and it took over three centuries for us in Ireland to organize such an event for the first time. Although there is little recorded evidence as to when exactly this tradition began, historians consent that the first parade was held in 1601 in Florida, which was still a Spanish colony at the time, and was arranged by the Irish vicar Ricardo Artur. Two hundred years later, in the 1800s, when the Catholic Irish were facing discrimination in the United States that was mostly Protestant, holding a parade on St. Patrick’s Day became a way for the Irish immigrants to pay respect to their patron saint and gather together to show that they are strong and won't ever give up on their identity. The first St. Paddy’s Day parade in Ireland was held in 1903 in Waterford and it has since become a must-attend annual event. Every year, we march, play traditional Irish instruments, and perform Irish dances; it's a lively, noisy, and family-friendly manner of honoring our history.
Dressing up in green
Most of us nowadays link St. Patrick with the color green, as he wears it in almost all of his depictions, whether in a history book or a stained-glass window from a Catholic church. Few people are aware, however, that St. Patrick was formerly associated with a deep shade of blue that was even named after him and was known as "St. Patrick's blue." The connection between St. Patrick's Day and the color green dates back to the 1798 Irish Rebellion against British rule, when Irish soldiers wore green uniforms and waved green flags, and civilians who supported the rebellion wore green elements or shamrocks to show their sympathy. Green is now a hue associated with not only St. Patrick's Day but the Emerald Isle in general. Green costumes, accessories, and traditional clothes, such as green Irish sweaters, Celtic scarves, and shamrock-adorned hats, are worn during that day. There’s even a tradition that involves pinching the people that are not wearing green, as it is said that only those who wear this color become invisible for the feisty leprechauns who enjoy pinching and playing pranks on them. Whether you want to avoid being pinched or just want to cherish your Irish heritage in an authentic manner, you can dress in a gorgeous heavyweight traditional Aran sweater for men, a traditional ladies funnel neck Aran sweater from Tara, or a traditional children's Aran sweater with crew-neck for your little one in a shade of green.
The shamrock is one of the two national symbols of Ireland and it is revered by us, the Irish. Although most people associate the shamrock with St. Patrick, this plant has played an important part in our history long before the inception of this holiday. Back in ancient Ireland, the Celts who populated the island considered the shamrock to be a sacred plant and a symbol of spring and the rebirth of nature. As per the association with St. Patrick, a legend says that during his missionary trips, he used the shamrock to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity to the pagans, and thus preach Christianity here in Ireland. In the later centuries, the poor Irish citizens used this plant to decorate their clothing when going to church and the shamrock eventually became a symbol of Christianity and Irish heritage. These days, during St. Paddy’s holiday, thousands of people from all around the world wear shamrock-shaped jewelry, paint it on their faces, wear accessories with shamrocks such as this Merino wool shamrock Irish scarf, and even decorate their clothes and hats with real plants.
Eating traditional food and drinks
Another popular way of commemorating the saint and honoring our ancestors is by enjoying traditional Irish foods and beverages. The star of the show is corned beef and cabbage, the traditional food of the Irish citizens, especially the poor ones, as it was made of affordable and readily accessible ingredients. Despite its name, this meal includes no corn; the beef is cured in salt, and the term "corn" was used in the 17th century to refer to the salt crystals used to cure the meat, that were the size of corn kernels. Irish soda bread, colcannon, and lamb stew are other popular traditional meals, all of which are served with a cool drink of Guinness. These dishes, as well as other desserts such as cupcakes, cookies, and drinks, are often dyed green on St. Patrick's Day.
Watching the whole world turn green for a dayThanks to numerous Irish diaspora, especially in states like the United States, Great Britain, and Canada, St. Paddy’s Day is honored well beyond our country’s borders. Apart from the customary parade and going to the bar, each country celebrates this event in its own unique way. The most well-known is the yearly custom of dyeing the Chicago River green, a tradition that began in 1962. However, Chicago is by far not the only place that follows such a custom. In the past, cities like San Antonio, Savannah, Washington D.C., and Indianapolis have all dyed their rivers green, and last year, even the River Liffey here in Dublin was intended to be colored. Another popular way for different countries to commemorate this occasion is to turn their most important buildings and landmarks green, such as the London Eye in the United Kingdom, the Colosseum and Pisa's Tower in Italy, the Sydney Opera House in Australia, and even Egypt's Giza Pyramids. For a day, we the Irish watch the whole world turning green.
As can be seen, St. Patrick's Day is a significant event for Irish people, both those who live in Ireland and those families have moved to other countries a long time ago. It is not just a joyful and boisterous celebration, but also a symbol of Irish power and solidarity all over the world. At Tara, we keep the tradition alive by creating authentic Irish knitwear and accessories that allow people to celebrate and honor their heritage not just on St. Patrick's Day, but every other day of the year. We hold Irish beliefs, history, and customs in high regard and strive to depict them through traditional patterns, stitches, and elements on our products. So, if you're looking for some traditional attire to wear to this year's parade or to give as a gift to your loved ones on the upcoming holiday, welcome shopping with us, and have a blessed St. Patrick’s Day!