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Fling, sing and bring on the Irish … but plan ahead

Hugh Gray For The Observer

March 2, 2014

With a tip of the mug and a hearty “Erin go braugh,” many folks will celebrate the coming St. Patrick’s Day. While many people indulge on the 4th of July, Thanksgiving and throughout the winter holidays, St. Pat’s is the only holiday which emphasizes eating and drinking in excess. Not many other holidays have their own drink. (Think green beer here.) Not to discredit the spiked eggnog drinkers, but you’re a pretty small market, in comparison.


So it’s certainly a time to enjoy yourself with friends and have some corned beef and maybe some cabbage. Even a little beer and whiskey drinking is OK if you do it in moderation. But the thing to do is to focus on the color and culture of Ireland and not the drinking and eating.


Did you know that the wearing of green and shamrocks originated from soldiers in Ireland who wanted to bring attention to themselves? Did you know that the original color associated with St. Patrick was blue and not green?


While St. Patrick’s Day originally was celebrated as a religious holiday honoring St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, today the day is celebrated in a variety of entertaining ways. More than a religious holiday, March 17th is now associated with anything Irish.


For many cities in the U.S. that have significant Irish populations, commemorating the day is one way for Irish-Americans to celebrate their Irish culture and heritage. Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day doesn’t have to be about spending time in Irish pubs and drinking green beer. The day has come to be celebrated with all kinds of special activities.


So think of the holiday as a time to learn a little more about the culture of Ireland and the life of St. Patrick and not a time for overeating and getting drunk.


Here are a few tips on how to celebrate an alcohol free St. Patrick’s Day from author Amber Keefer, who has more than 25 years’ experience working in the fields of human services and health care administration.


• Wear green clothing on the holiday. You don’t have to go overboard if you don’t want. Choose an all-green sweater or T-shirt, or a polo shirt with green stripes. If you aren’t into wearing green, sport a shamrock pin to show your support of the day.


• Dress up your attire with St. Patrick’s Day buttons and pins, or lavish green jewelry. Let other people know that you are Irish, or at least Irish for the day. Dust on green.