St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most exciting times of the year in Ireland. The national holiday celebrates Ireland’s patron saint, Saint Patrick, who is credited with bringing Christianity to the region. It’s also a day when people all over the world celebrate Irish culture and heritage – especially throughout the Emerald Isle!
Here are some of Ireland’s most popular St. Patrick’s Day traditions:
1. Take the day off.
St. Patrick’s Day is a bank holiday in Ireland, so many businesses close for the day. However, pubs and restaurants generally stay open, so you can still enjoy the celebrations! Fun fact: Despite the holiday’s association with beer, pubs in Ireland were actually closed for St. Patrick’s Day until the 1970s.
2. Start with a hearty breakfast.
Stay fueled for St. Patrick’s Day festivities with a traditional Irish breakfast! Since most people in Ireland have the day off work, it’s common for many to start their morning with a big fry-up of sausages, bacon, eggs and black pudding.
3. One word: parades.
Parades are synonymous with St. Patrick’s Day celebrations! Ireland’s biggest parade takes place in Dublin, where the city hosts a multi-day festival. Over 4,000 people and hundreds of floats wind their way through Dublin’s streets.
Pro-tip: if you want to avoid the major crowds, many Irish towns and villages usually have their own smaller-scale parades.
4. Traditional music and dinner.
Many pubs and restaurants feature live traditional Irish music performances on St. Patrick’s Day, and classic dishes like bacon and cabbage or corned beef are often on the menu. Don’t expect to find any green beer, though, unless you stop by a place that caters to tourists.
5. St. Patrick’s Day mass.
St. Patrick’s Day, despite its now secular nature, has its origins deeply rooted in Christianity. In fact, the holiday is celebrated on March 17th because it’s traditionally considered the date of Saint Patrick’s death. Churches all over Ireland conduct special services to pay tribute to the patron saint of the country.
6. Get together with loved ones.
St. Patrick’s Day is a time to celebrate Irish culture and heritage with family, friends and loved ones. Many people in Ireland take the opportunity to spend time together and enjoy the festivities.
7. Dress in green.
Did you know that the color blue was originally associated with the holiday? When Saint Patrick was alive, Ireland’s flag was blue instead of its current tricolor of green, white and orange. Don’t worry about packing your blue clothes, though. Nowadays, you’ll see Ireland’s streets and people decked out in green and shamrocks.
8. Do a good deed.
Since 2014, thousands of people have participated in the Aware Harbour2Harbour Walk on St. Patrick’s Day. The 16-mile charity walk from Dun Laoghaire to Howth Harbour (or vice versa) raises funds and awareness for mental health. Not only is this a fantastic cause, but it’s also a great opportunity to take in the views of Dublin Bay!
Ireland beyond St. Patrick’s Day
Great news – when you study abroad in Ireland during the spring semester, you’ll be there for the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations! But… let’s be honest. There’s never really a bad time to visit the Emerald Isle – it’s pretty spectacular year-round. AIFS Abroad offers a range of study abroad and international internship programs in amazing places like Dublin, Limerick, Maynooth and Galway.