Irish Traditions for Saint Patrick's Day

How do the REAL Irish celebrate St. Patrick's Day?

Saint Patrick's Day in America has become one of the most widely celebrated holidays of the year, despite the fact that it is not originally an American holiday. When we here in America think of Saint Patrick's Day, we think green beer, shamrocks and parades. So what do the Irish actually do to honor their patron Saint?

What to wear

For starters, while green is worn to represent Ireland, don't wear too much. The Irish actually consider that to be back luck. Legend has it that green is the color of the Good People (faeries) and if you wear too much green they may come and steal you away! Do, however, incorporate a Shamrock into your wardrobe on St. Paddy's Day as the three leaves of the Shamrock are said to be what Saint Patrick used to explain the Christian idea of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Ghost).

What to eat and drink

Food and drink are definite prerequisites for a Saint Patrick's Day celebration, but don't stop at just corn beef, cabbage and green beer. To honor true Irish tradition, try adding Irish Soda Bread (a quick bread made with bread soda rather than yeast) , Colcannon ( a dish made from mashed potatoes, kale or cabbage) or Boxty (Irish potato pancakes) to the menu. As for your choice of beer, it can't be anything but Irish beer on Saint Patrick's Day. While Guinness is certainly the most well known of the Irish beers, Harp is also an authentic Irish beer and quite tasty! While green beer is fun, Saint Paddy's Day just isn't complete without a sip of Irish Whiskey. Whether you prefer a mixed drink like an Emerald, an Irish Coffee or whiskey straight, make sure it's authentic Irish whiskey! Bushmills is one of the oldest and most respected Irish whiskey makers, but Jameson and Kilbeggan made a fine whiskey as well. If you can afford to splurge, savor the taste of Bushmills 1608 or Jameson Rarest Vintage. Last, but not least, you must have music on St. Paddy's Day.

What to listen to

The Irish love to dance and their music has been used for centuries to express everything from birth to death and all the emotions in between. Like many other cultures, when the Irish culture was repressed by English imperialism, they were forbidden to speak their own language. Music became their means of expression and still is today. Irish classics like Finnegan's Wake, The Unicorn Song and Danny Boy can be heard all over Ireland in celebration Saint Patrick. So this Saint Patrick's Day, celebrate like a true Irishman! Slainte!

Saint Patrick's Day Parade from Ireland

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Comments 11 comments

nancy_30 profile image

nancy_30 7 years ago from Georgia

I've got to remember to wear something green this year. Last year I got pinched. Great hub! I enjoyed reading it.

leigia67 profile image

leigia67 7 years ago Author

thanks's one of those days when everyone has a good time!

iskra1916 profile image

iskra1916 6 years ago from Belfast, Ireland.

leigia67 ,

You might like to change that part of your hub about the English "conquering" us - we tend to frown on that suggestion & have spent 100's of years fighting them.

Also, the meal you are talking about is called "boxty" not 'bosty.' Never heard of 'colcannon' tbh & i have lived here all my life. I think the dish you are referring to is really called "champ" = spuds& scallions(spring onions.)

Beannacht Lá Fhéile Pádraig! (happy st patricks day!)

Is mise le meas,


Beal feirste


leigia67 profile image

leigia67 6 years ago Author

Iskra...thanks for the comments. I am Irish and German, but live in America so I can't claim to know better than you:> The Boxty was a typo. Colcannon is something that we eat here...I'm not sure where we got the word for it if you don't use it there! And I apologize for using the word "conquering"...I should have been more sympathetic as I know that is a huge sore spot and an ongoing fight. Any suggestions for how to word that without offending?

iskra1916 profile image

iskra1916 6 years ago from Belfast, Ireland.

No problems Leigia67,

yeah I think 'colcannon' may be more popular as a word over the pond in the USA & also in perhaps Cork in the very south of our country.

As regards a more appropriate wording,it might be best to hint at the English 'colonial' or 'imperialist' repression of the Irish language(gaeilge)& Irish culture through the centuries perhaps. Thankfully, they didnt manage to ethnically cleanse all of us & the Irish language is thriving now with Irish language schools in every district. Schoolkids who are taught via the medium of Irish (gaeilge)consistantly fair much better in school board exams too, though this may be because of the better teacher/pupil ratio.

Adh Mor ort leigia67 mo chara agus Beannacht Lá Fhéile Pádraig ! :)

(Good luck Leigia67 my friend and happy saint Patricks Day!)

leigia67 profile image

leigia67 6 years ago Author

Thanks Iskra...f.y.i. I was just watching one of our morning news shows here and they had a chef and auther of an Irish cookbook on there preparing colcannon. On that one, we may just beg to differ. I will work on wording though as I truly understand your point and as my ancesters owned a castle over there in the 11th century that the English undoubetdly plundered, I should be more sensitive huh? :> Well, today is also my birthday so I'm off to celebrate that along with good ol' Saint Pat. WIsh I could say something to you in gaelic - I find it a beautiful language - but I'm limited to English, Spanish and French so HAPPY SAINT PAT"S DAY!

iskra1916 profile image

iskra1916 6 years ago from Belfast, Ireland.

Sorry to hear about your family castle being plundered by the English.

Ta bron orm (apologies) I asked my wife about the dish called colcannon & i was wrong, she knows the term & saw it being sold pre-prepared in the local supermarket.(probably proves i dont spend enough time in the in our part of Ireland, it would be known as 'champ'

Happy Birthday mo chara - its a great day to have a birthday on!

Oiche mhaith mo chara!(good night my friend)

leigia67 profile image

leigia67 6 years ago Author

iskra...thanks...clearly I wasn't around to defend my castle (lol) and my family sailed over here about 500 years ago, so my claim to Irish heritage is pretty weak! Glas to know I wasn't crazy about the colcannon! thanks!

jamiecoins profile image

jamiecoins 5 years ago from ireland

wow great hub loads of great info :)

leigia67 profile image

leigia67 5 years ago Author

Thanks Jamie!

jamiecoins profile image

jamiecoins 5 years ago from ireland

i am from ireland and its great information for anyone learning about saint patrick and irish traditions :) iv wrote a few hubs on ireland and am planning on doing another on the history of my homme town :)

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