History Of St. Patrick’s Day And Tips To Stay Sober

  • Written by:

    Bedrock Recovery Center

  • Dr. Johnelle Smith
    Medically reviewed by:

    Johnelle Smith, M.D

History Of St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick’s Day wasn’t always the intense drinking day we currently know it as. What started as a religious feast day has changed quite a lot from its humble origins. 

Today, St. Patrick’s Day binge drinking and drunk driving rates in Massachusetts and beyond are reaching new levels, which can be especially challenging for people in recovery.

Whether you’re still pursuing a sober curious mindset from Dry January, are in recovery from alcohol or drug addiction, or just want to avoid the drinking scene, the history and tips below can help.

History Of St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day was originally a feast day celebrating the patron saint of Ireland. Born in Roman-occupied Britain in the 4th century, St. Patrick came to live in Ireland in 432 CE. 

For the rest of his life, he converted many Irish people to Christianity, established monasteries, churches, and schools, and became the basis of many legends. 

However, the feast day was not established until 1631, about twelve centuries after he died. This is partially why the man behind the day has relatively little to do with the way it’s celebrated now. 

Transition Into Modern Traditions

In the 18th century, a further 200 years after the feast day was started, modern traditions started to take shape. Since the day falls during the period of Lent, it provided a day off from abstinence. 

This is where many of the themes of indulgence and abundance come from. 

For many years, there was a law in Ireland keeping businesses closed for St. Patrick’s Day, pubs included. When this was repealed in 1961, the festivities kicked into an even higher gear. 

A marketing push by Budweiser at this time helped solidify drinking beer in particular as part of the occasion. 

Secularization And American Culture 

The day became a secular holiday in the U.S. with celebrations from Irish immigrants. 

This is the body of people who brought St. Patrick’s celebrations and parades, especially in cities with large Irish populations, such as Boston, Massachusetts. 

Similar celebrations that occur in Ireland now are actually adoptions of American traditions and are done mostly for tourists. Many people in Ireland still observe it as a solemn religious holiday. 

Practical Tips For Celebrations Without Substance Use

It can be difficult to escape drinking culture on St. Patrick’s Day. But there has always been more to this day than just drinking green beer. 

Here are a few relapse prevention tips and ways you or your loved one in recovery can get back to the original roots of St. Patrick’s Day. 

Eating And Being With Loved Ones

The holiday started as a feast day — why not go back to that tradition? 

Corned beef and cabbage, foods often associated with the day, are actually a tradition started by Irish immigrants in Boston.

You can cook this meal or a different one with loved ones to celebrate the traditional foods of the day.

Or if you’re not much of a cook, you can find local Irish restaurants nearby. Many of these foods may be served at pubs. To avoid being around drinking, opt for takeout instead.

Whatever meal you decide on, try to make it one that makes you feel celebratory to mark the occasion. 

Self-Reflection And Practicing Gratitude 

Luck was heavily associated with St. Patrick: He was captured and enslaved twice in his life before he escaped and became the priest we know today. 

In the spirit of his life, the day could be marked with self-reflection rather than indulgence. Consider gratitude journaling, and looking back at the luck that has been in your life so far. 

If you are religious, prayer can also be part of how you spend this holiday. If you’re not religious, consider meditation as a way of seeking similar calming and centering benefits. 

Get Into Nature

Greenery and clovers are also very heavily associated with the holiday. 

Wearing the color green started as a way for the Irish to differentiate themselves from the red associated with the British, and wearing clovers was an inexpensive way to dress up for church.

You can expand on these ideas by visiting a nature center or taking a walk on a nature trail. See if there is a community garden you can access, or start an indoor garden of your own. 

Related to the self-reflection and meditation mentioned in the previous section, walking in nature can be a form of meditation called moving meditation. 

Notice how your body and mind react to being outside. Take deep breaths of the fresh air, and listen to the sounds of nature around you. Be present and mindful in the moment. 

Attend Group Therapy 

If today is a somewhat difficult day for you, you aren’t alone. There are many support groups that gather around this time to support each other and provide sober relief from the excess of the day. 

Research substance abuse group therapy meetings in your area, and find one that’s a good fit for you. 

Find Alcohol Addiction Treatment In Massachusetts

This St. Patrick’s Day, reach out to the addiction specialists at Bedrock Recovery Center for support dealing with alcohol addiction. 

Our trauma-informed alcohol abuse inpatient treatment with a focus on early recovery may be just what you need in your journey toward sobriety. Call us today to learn more. 


Sources: 

Britanica.com — St. Patrick’s Day

TIME — The True History Behind St. Patrick’s Day

TIME — Shamrocks Are Everywhere on St. Patrick’s Day. Here’s How the Three-Leaf Clover Became a Symbol of All Things Irish