Why is drinking associated with St. Patrick’s Day?
In reality, drinking is associated with almost all holidays and celebrations. The night before Thanksgiving is very busy for bars. Many house parties are held during the Christmas season. And alcohol is common at weddings, wakes, and graduation, birthday, and block parties.
On St. Patrick’s Day, there seems to be more public intoxication. This can give revelers the impression that the only way to enjoy the day is to drink.
But staying sober is more Irish and less Irish-American. Until a few decades ago, pubs in Ireland were closed on St. Patrick’s Day because it is a religious holiday there.
Drinking too much can be risky. (Excessive drinking includes binge drinking, heavy drinking, and any drinking by pregnant women or people younger than 21.) Many car crashes, falls, fires, drownings, and other accidents have been linked to excessive alcohol use. Research has also shown that people are at greater risk of violent and sexual crimes when they are intoxicated. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 80,000 alcohol-related deaths each year in the United States.
So how can you have an alcohol-free St. Patrick’s Day? Here are some suggestions:
- Attend a St. Patrick’s Day parade. You can be a spectator or participant without drinking. If you want to avoid alcohol and public drinking, steer clear of the end of the parade. That is often the site of the party atmosphere.
- Drink green nonalcoholic beverages: Any clear or mostly clear drink can be dyed green with food coloring. People may be less likely to pressure you to drink alcoholic beverages if you already have a drink in your hand.
- Play music. Most St. Patrick’s Day celebrations have music. If you’re a musician, volunteer to entertain the crowd.
- Serve food: Volunteer or put yourself in charge of preparing, serving, or distributing food. You’ll be busy, and you’ll have a mission.
- Read stories and/or poetry: Set up a children’s area and share some Irish literature.
- Work at an event: Events need to be run by sober people. You and the other people working at the event will be too busy to drink alcohol.
- Be active: Lot of activities are held to mark St. Patrick’s Day, including 5K races. Wearing a green novelty tee or a festive hat can make the event even more fun.
- Be a designated driver: Offer to be “the sober one” so your friends and loved ones can get home safely.
- Find a buddy: You’re not the only one doesn’t want to drink on St. Patrick’s Day. Having a sober friend nearby may help strengthen your resolve when everyone else is intoxicated.
- Go to the movies: Theaters typically are not very busy during big social events.
- Stay home and watch movies: Invite sober friends over and watch Irish-themed movies. Try “The Quiet Man” (1952) or “My Left Foot” (1989).
With a little bit of thought and some planning, you can avoid drinking and still enjoy St. Patrick’s Day. Erin go Bragh!