St. Patrick’s Day, originally started as a Catholic holy day, has evolved into more of a secular holiday. St. Patrick’s mission in Ireland lasted for thirty years, afterward he retired. Since his death on March 17 in AD 461, the day has been commemorated as St. Patrick’s Day. The modern secular holiday is based on the original Christian saint’s feast day. In 1737, Irish immigrants to the United States began observing the holiday publicly in Boston and held the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City in 1766. Since then the holiday has seemed to become an excuse to drink to excess as indulgence is deeply rooted in its traditions. I’m not preaching, as I too like a good mug of Murphy’s stout every now and then. Still, there are ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day without drinking to excess and spending March 18th kneeling at the porcelain altar.
Traditional Gaelic games such as “Heave Ho” should probably be played sober as it requires balance and coordination in order to win. It is the Gaelic version of the classic hay sack toss game. The original game required the player to use a pitchfork to toss a cloth bag filled with dirt and toss it over a tree branch to catch it on the other side with the pitchfork. A more modern version of the game uses a spatula to pitch a newspaper-stuffed lunch bag up and over a clothesline or makeshift crossbar. Whoever succeeds the most times out of ten is the winner.
Food is a tradition with all holidays, corn beef and cabbage being the main dish served on St. Patrick’s Day. Recipes vary from family to family and delicious recipes are available online for those of us who aren’t privy to a recipe passed down through the generations. There are of course options, as with all holidays, to go the non-traditional route with offerings like a Lucky Fruit giftbasket or Cloverleaf petit fours for the more discerning tastes from online vendors.
When I went looking online for ideas to celebrate St. Patrick’s without the hangover, I found an interesting array of gifts that are thoughtful and marvelous including Celtic Sun catchers and stained glass gifts from send.com. With St. Patrick’s Day less than a week away from the beginning of spring, I thought a sun catcher would be a fun and thoughtful gift.