Saint Patrick’s Day Celebrations and Preparations – 5 Key Must Have Items
When getting ready for St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago, workers have to obtain the 40 pounds of colored vegetable dye that they use to turn the Chicago River green for the day.
Bars around the world stock up with more than ten million pints of Guinness stout. And every McDonalds outlet must receive a special shipment of Shamrock Shake syrup so it can serve the icky-green mint-flavored drink that – for some reason – has become such a beloved tradition that there were nationwide protests when the company temporarily stopped selling the shakes.
Preparing for St. Patrick’s Day isn’t quite that demanding a task for most of us. But if you plan on celebrating the day in true Irish style, there are five must-have items you should have on hand – and none of them are as difficult to find as vats of green dye or barrels of green milk shake syrup.
Who Was St. Patrick, and Why Was He Such a Big Deal?
March 17, the date on which the patron saint of Ireland passed away (in the year 461 AD), has been celebrated for nearly 400 years as a Christian feast day to mark the proliferation of Christianity in Ireland. Only that nation and the small island country of Montserrat (which was founded by Irish refugees) celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day as a public holiday.
You probably wouldn’t realize that fact, however, when considering the number of parades and parties staged throughout the English-speaking world by Irish immigrants, their descendants, and those who feel “Irish at heart.” In fact, St. Patrick’s Day is marked by celebrations, of one sort or another, in more nations than any other “national” holiday.
Saint Patrick himself is somewhat of an enigma, because most of his backstory comes from his own writing and has been greatly exaggerated over the centuries – for example, Patrick never drove the snakes from Ireland, because there are no snakes in Ireland.
However, what we do know is that he was born into a rich British family, but was taken prisoner by Irish raiders and held in Ireland for six years before he escaped. During his imprisonment he turned to Christianity, and after returning to Britain he studied to become a priest. He then returned to Ireland to serve the small number Christians living there and to convert non-believers, most of whom were considered pagans by the church.
Patrick was successful in his mission and became beloved in Ireland, largely because he blended traditional Irish Celtic symbols and rituals with more rigorous Christian teachings; the best-known product of this approach is the shamrock, a sacred Celtic symbol which Patrick used to symbolize the Holy Trinity. He is said to have converted well over 100,000 people and established hundreds of churches over his 40 years of missionary work.
While never actually canonized as a saint, Patrick is recognized as the “Patron Saint” of Ireland. It’s easy to understand from his work why he is held in such high regard in that country and has been recognized with a national feast day for more than 1,000 years. What’s not generally-known is that the day was much more of a religious than secular holiday in Ireland until recent years, when the Irish government began sponsoring a huge multi-day St. Patrick’s Festival to build interest in the nation’s culture and boost tourism. (Believe it or not, pubs in Ireland were legally required to be closed on St. Patrick’s Day until the 1970s!)
Why Is St. Patrick’s Day Celebrated Elsewhere?
In pre-revolutionary America, some Irish soldiers served in the British army. In 1762, they decided to march through New York City to celebrate their heritage; that was the first-ever St. Patrick’s Day parade. Over the years, the size of the parade grew as more immigrants of Irish descent came to America.
It wasn’t until 1848 that the New York parade became official, with the city’s various Irish Aid organizations joining forces to stage a massive celebration. This coincided with the Great Potato Famine in Ireland, which led nearly a million Irish Catholics to emigrate to the United States. Most faced discrimination and poverty, and St. Patrick’s Day became a unifying symbol of their heritage.
As Irish-American political power grew, the parade and related celebrations became important events for municipal and political figures to attend, crowds grew rapidly, and Irish communities in other U.S. cities – and eventually, around the English-speaking world – developed their own St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, parades, Irish music concerts and special events. They range from the annual dying of the Chicago River, to Boston’s famed St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast, an Irish-themed get-together and good-natured political roast now carried on national television.
There’s one other major ingredient we haven’t mentioned: the food and drink. St. Patrick’s Day falls during the Catholic period of Lent, when many people choose to abstain from eating certain foods or drinking alcohol. Since Saint Patrick’s Day is observed by the Catholic Church, however, all restrictions are lifted for the day and that has encouraged many to indulge (or over-indulge) in their favorite beverages and meals while marking the day. Traditional Irish fare like corned beef and cabbage, Irish stew, and of course lots of beer (particularly Guinness) and whiskey are de rigueur at St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
March 17 is an important day for those of Irish descent to honor and celebrate their heritage. But with huge parades and parties, great food, lots of drinking, loud and festive music, the question isn’t why St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated all over the world.
The real question is why someone wouldn’t want to celebrate. Here’s what you’ll need to do it in style – the Top 5 Must Have Items for Saint Patrick’s Day.
Whether you plan on partying at home, going out to see a parade or pub-hopping, you’ll need sustenance. And there’s nothing more traditional than corned beef and cabbage on Saint Patrick’s Day.
It can be difficult to find high-quality, lean corned beef unless you live in a major city with a high-end deli, so a great solution is to order it from one of the most revered delis in the nation, the award-winning Canter’s of Los Angeles. This delicious meat has been Canter’s top-selling deli meat for nearly a century, premium-quality, extremely lean and prepared from a proprietary recipe. They’ll deliver a ¾ pound package of fresh, lean corned beef to you in quick order; all you have to do is pick up a head of cabbage (or if you’re not going completely traditional, some sauerkraut and Russian dressing to make Reubens), boil some potatoes if you’d like, and you’ll have a meal fit for a Saint – or at least someone celebrating his life. (Surprisingly, the Irish aren’t as partial to corned beef as those of Irish descent living in America and elsewhere – but that doesn’t make it any less delicious).
The Groom+Style team has enjoyed Canter’s Corned Beef for years, finding it one of the leanest, tastiest and expertly-cured meats available anywhere. It’s perfect for your Saint Patrick’s Day party or pre/post-parade meal.
Facts and figures on Canter’s Deli Sliced Lean Corned Beef:
2. Guinness Green Collection Pint Glasses, Set Of Two
The producers of legendary Irish Guinness Stout say that St. Patrick’s Day celebrants spend an average of $35 on March 17th partying, with most of that amount spent on beer – with a huge percentage of them enjoying the company’s famed dry stout. Fittingly, the brewery says that 13 million pints of Guinness are consumed every Saint Patrick’s Day.
All authentic Irish pubs, and most other great watering holes, have Guinness stout on tap; if you’re going to be partying at home, it’s easy to find it in cans or bottles. However, the experience of downing a few pints isn’t complete unless Guinness is served with a “two-part” pour in a suitable glass, and these authentic Guinness green pint glasses are designed to fill that role.
Each high-quality, machine-washable 20-ounce glass proudly features the traditional green, gold and black Guinness logo. More importantly, these glasses are shaped to allow the perfect pour, every time.
Guinness stout is the must-serve drink on March 17th. Serving it in beautiful, authentic Guinness pint glasses will make your St. Patrick’s Day party a true Irish event. They’ll look great on your bar year-round, too.
More detail on the Guinness Green Collection Pint Glasses:
Many who go all-out on Saint Patrick’s Day are primarily concerned with tradition and authenticity. Many others are just interested in having fun – and those who are naturally outgoing (or whose inhibitions are lessened after a few pints) consider the “wearing of the green” a key element of the celebration. There are literally thousands of “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” t-shirts available everywhere you look on St. Patrick’s Day, but those just make you one of the crowd.
If you want to truly stand out at a parade or at the pub, what you need is an eye-popping costume. And the one that’s caught the review team’s fancy is the green Mr. Leprechaun costume from Forum. It’s made of polyester and can be a tight fit for larger adults, but it perfectly captures the whimsical yet festive nature of the holiday.
This one-piece costume is built around a green jacket with black cuffs and collar, with an attached green vest with shamrock design, white shirt and green bow tie. There are also stretchy green shorts and a floppy leprechaun hat; simply add a few accessories like a fake beard, pipe and pot of gold and you’ll be the most dapper celebrant around. Forum offers a similar costume in child’s size.
Male members of the Groom+Style Team aren’t quite sure whether they’d be comfortable going out in public fully costumed, but they agree that if they were able to get up the nerve, this Forum Mr. Leprechaun outfit would be their choice.
Looking closer at the Forum Mr. Leprechaun Costume:
Ladies, you didn’t think the team would forget you, did you? Here’s the perfect outfit for your Saint Patrick’s Day party or outing, whether you are going with Mr. Leprechaun or hoping to find a like-minded Irish mate. The Leprechaun Lass costume is a four-piece outfit in green, black, gold and white, with a shamrock-print green dress, peasant top, attached underskirt and black hat with green band and gold buckle.
This outfit is simultaneously cute and sexy, and while it’s a one-size costume it will fit most women well. Add white or green tights, your choice of matching footwear and you’ll be the star of your St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
Specifications for the Smiffy’s Women’s Leprechaun Lass Costume:
Saint Patrick’s Day has unquestionably taken on a life of its own, with many celebrants just paying lip service to the day’s meaning and focusing much more on an excuse to drink and party.
If you’d like to put the “Irish” back into your St. Patrick’s Day gathering, why not follow up a corned beef dinner by inviting your guests outdoors for a traditional game of rugby? (Gaelic football and hurling – the game, not what often follows heavy drinking – are actually the national sports of Ireland, but rubgy is a lot easier to understand and play).
This black, gold and white Guinness rugby ball is an official replica ball from the Pro12 Rugby Competition (formerly known as the Celtic League), it’s durable, and it’s the proper size for a proper game of rugby on your front lawn or a nearby field. Not sure how to play? Pick up a copy of Rugby For Dummies ahead of time to familiarize yourself with the rules.
Just be careful; rugby can be a tough game, so you may want to save your drinking until after you’re done playing. In other words, use this impressive Guinness Pro12 ball first, and celebrate your win with pints of Guinness afterward.
Digging deeper on the Guinness Pro12 Rugby Ball: