This is a guest contribution by Sarah Lockwood of ThePreventionCoalition.
You don’t have to be Irish to have fun with the folklore of March 17th. Contrary to popular belief, St. Patrick’s Day wasn’t a holiday made up to sell Irish whiskey. It’s actually an ancient tradition among Gaelic folk and held as a way to honor the life and death of St. Patrick, the protector of Ireland. But Americans tend to take things a little too far, and St. Paddy’s Day celebrations have become synonymous with an over-appreciation for booze and green beer. When you’re in recovery, this otherwise innocent day of festivities can set you back if you’re not careful.
Here are a few of the best ways to get in the spirit of the day without turning to spirits:
Potatoes aren’t the only thing Irish people eat, ya know! Get in the mood by hosting your very own Irish brunch complete with sausages, tomatoes, soda bread and corned beef hash. These recipes from AllRecipes.com can get you started.
Tap into your inner DIYer and decorate your home in a green scheme. A fun yarn wreath, golden shamrock Mason jars and leprechaun-inspired banner can set the tone for your mid-day meal and up your enjoyment of the holiday. Redfin offers up a few other decorating ideas for your Irish-themed feast.
Many popular, mainstream movies are Irish in origin. Waking Ned Devine, In the Name of the Father and My Left Foot are among the best movies to watch on St. Patrick’s Day. These and other cinematic masterpieces come recommended by Irish Central. There are plenty of Irish actors, including Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Colin Farrell, Liam Neeson and Gabriel Byrne, who hail from the Emerald Isle so you shouldn’t be at a loss for something to watch. If you’re not a fan of music, you can always crank up the radio and celebrate the holiday with bands including The Cranberries, U2 and Flogging Molly.
As a traditionally Catholic holiday, St. Patrick’s Day is also a great way to connect with your faith or experience the traditions of another. Throughout the country, there are a number of parishes that offer St. Patrick’s Day Masses. The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Savannah, Georgia, which is considered one of the best places in the US on March 17th, traditionally hosts a parade and Mass. You can tour the cathedral outside of active services for free, although a $2 donation is appreciated. There are more than 20,000 Catholic churches and cathedrals located throughout the United States, so you should have no problem finding a Mass no matter where you live.
For the ultimate alcohol-free celebration, you always have the option to head to Ireland on vacation. If you are celebrating a sobriety milestone, a trip overseas is an exceptional way to reward yourself and your family. Compared to other European nations, Ireland is a relatively inexpensive trip that will give you the opportunity to soak up the sun and immerse yourself in the country’s rich history. While Ireland is a great trip anytime of year, it’s especially lively around St. Patrick’s Day with plenty of festivals, music events, and food to keep your mind busy and your heart full.
As you can see, green beer and goofy wine glasses aren’t required. You can have fun throughout this – and every – holiday and you don’t need alcohol to liven things up.
About the author:
Sarah co-created ThePreventionCoalition to provide an online forum for people seeking information about substance abuse. Ms. Lockwood is a retired social worker.
If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol dependency and fear relapse, speak your mentor, seek out a sober friend, or call the National Helpline at 800-662-HELP for a referral to a local service that can help you through the cravings.