Updated on 2/8/2023
If you have a complicated relationship with alcohol, St. Patrick’s Day can be tough. If you’re struggling with drinking, St. Patrick’s Day can provide an excuse to overindulge. If you’re in recovery from alcohol use disorder, St. Patrick’s Day could bring up uncomfortable memories, or you might feel pressured to participate. Let’s take a look at the origins of the holiday and how you can enjoy St. Patrick’s Day without alcohol.
The Origins of St. Patrick’s Day
In the United States, St. Patrick’s Day is a celebration of all things Irish. It might include food, shamrocks, wearing green and (unfortunately) drinking. The holiday didn’t start that way, though.
According to Time, St. Patrick’s Day started in 1631 when the Catholic Church established March 17 as a feast day for the saint. Not much is known about the actual person who became the Patron Saint of Ireland. Scholars know that he was a Roman citizen who was enslaved and taken to Ireland. He escaped, became a priest and returned to Ireland to convert people to Christianity, and he died in the 5th century.
Over the years, many legends have become attached to St. Patrick. One story is that he drove the snakes out of Ireland. The feast day became popular because it falls during Lent, which is a time of sobriety and reflection for many Christians. They could indulge on St. Patrick’s Day because it was a feast day.
Irish immigrants brought the celebration to the United States, and the first New York City parade was in 1762. The celebration grew over the years and experienced and became more associated with drinking due to a marketing blitz from a brewing company during the 1980s. Wearing green, food like corned beef and cabbage, and Irish music are also important parts of the holiday.
Tips for Enjoying St. Patrick’s Day Without Alcohol
You can have a fun St. Patrick’s Day without alcohol. Here are some tips and options for enjoying the day:
- Set clear boundaries. If you anticipate friends or family pressuring you to drink, remind them the days before that you won’t be participating. If you don’t think they’ll respect your boundaries, consider spending the day with sober friends and loved ones. If the best course of action for you is to ignore the day, you can. Do what’s best for you.
- Take in a celebration. If you’re comfortable with it, look for daytime, family-friendly activities on the day. Parades can be fun, and if you find a spot near the beginning of the route, you’ll avoid a lot of the partying, as that’s usually at the end of the route. Some cities host 5Ks, and you could participate or volunteer.
- Volunteer. Volunteering can be a great way to focus on something else. Consider helping out with an organization that serves the homeless or seniors.
- Enjoy a meal. Corned beef and cabbage is one traditional option, or you could try another Irish dish. Consider inviting over a friend or two and trying a recipe together. You could even dye it green with food dye.
- Go to the movies. Holidays can be an excellent day to see movies. You won’t have to wait in a long line or worry about a crowded theater.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide how you want to enjoy the day. You can celebrate in sobriety or just ignore the whole thing. It’s up to you.
Ready for Recovery?
Have you used holidays as an excuse to overindulge? Are you ready to make a lasting change? Do you need help maintaining your sobriety? DiscoveryMD can help. We provide programs for people with addictions. We use education and therapy to help people develop strategies to stay sober no matter what day of the year it is.
Ready to learn more about DMD? Contact us today so you can enjoy St. Patrick’s Day and every day.