When we think of holidays in America, we often think of the feast days in Winter, the picnics and fireworks of the Summer, and the fruits of the harvest in the fall. However, Spring brings its own holidays and unique traditions, like St. Patrick’s Day.
St. Patrick’s Day honors the Irish saint Patrick, first observed in Boston in 1737. Most of us think of St. Patrick’s Day as a time of parades and tradition, perhaps with crosses, leprechauns, and going to church. Unfortunately, it has also become associated with overindulgence in alcohol.
Did you know that St. Patrick’s Day is actually a feast day? The holiday, as originally conceived, embraced the traditional cooking of the island of Ireland. Most traditional meals are centered around the holiday staple: corned beef and cabbage.
While modern culture has embraced an unhealthy and detrimental view of the holiday as one for excessive alcoholism, let’s look at the traditional feast table. A St. Patrick’s Day menu might include a buttery bowl of mashed potatoes with leeks, cabbage, and other vegetables called colcannon. Besides these, you might find potato and soda bread, smashed brussels sprouts, and even Irish stew.
The St. Patrick’s Day Feast is a meal that celebrates the green of the Irish isle and the fruits of the early spring awakening. It is a cultural revelation and a great way to celebrate this holiday in a safe and sober way!
St. Patrick’s Day and the Luck of the Irish
Parades for St. Patrick’s Day are often a big deal in cities around the country. Getting a float into the parade can often be a competitive process, with many organizations and groups wanting to be represented. Heritage is an important part of our personal histories.
St. Patrick’s Day parades date back to the earliest celebrations of this holiday. While we often think of Boston as the center of Irish culture in America, the third oldest St. Patrick’s Day parade in America is the Savannah, Georgia parade, which dates back to March 17, 1824. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is said to have died of natural causes on March 17 in the year 492. More than a thousand years later, the first St. Patrick’s Day celebration occurred in Boston, in the United States.
This monumental celebration of his veneration in America was brought to the New World by Irish immigrants. These early Americans sought to establish some part of their cultural heritage in the American melting pot. Irish influence in America continued. Immigration to the United States from Ireland substantially increased during the potato famine of 1845-1849. In 1879, construction was completed at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. The towering architecture bearing the name of Ireland’s patron saint linked the two nations together.
Today, nine percent of all Americans claim Irish ancestry. Over 20,000 United States citizens can still speak Gaelic, the language of the Irish people. And five United States Presidents have Irish ancestry:
- Theodore Roosevelt
- Barack Obama
- George W. Bush
- Joe Biden
- Ronald Reagan
Despite hardships in the United States, the Irish spirit of these immigrants and new Americans endured. Solidifying the Irish fingerprints on our nation’s history, in 1991, the United States Congress declared March Irish-American Heritage Month. Today we celebrate our country’scountry’s Irish heritage and the Irish addition to our great American tapestry in the month of March each year.
H.A.L.T. Your Way Through a St. Patrick’s Day Celebration
The fact remains that holidays like St. Patrick’s Day can be difficult for people in recovery because many people focus on alcohol consumption. However, there are some easy ways you can avoid drinking and still have a good time at any celebration.
One of the best ways to keep yourself sober and prevent relapse is to remember the acronym H.A.L.T. when preparing to celebrate. H.A.L.T. stands for: hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. People are more likely to consume alcohol when they feel any of these things.
You may also be inclined to relapse if you are around people and places you frequented before treatment. Here are some tips to keep you sober this holiday:
- Make sure you get your rest: Sleep a full eight hours and do not go out to places you do not know without checking if they are safe for you to be sober.
- Practice mindfulness: Meditation can help keep you from getting angry.
- Go out to a parade: Socialization can help keep you from feeling lonely, and a parade is a fun activity to pass the time.
- Make sure you eat: Making traditional Irish food will definitely keep you feeling satisfied.
Put your needs and safety first. Your most important mission is to be your number-one cheerleader. Stay away from places that make you feel unsafe.
Helping Others to Stay Sober
One of the biggest lessons we can learn from the Twelve Steps is to take each moment as it comes. Even if relapse comes, know that it is not the end of the road. The most important thing you can do is get yourself back up, call your support team, and start moving forward again.
Keeping yourself on the path to recovery is never easier than when you are working with your peers and receiving their support. Whether you need to help others or your support can help someone else, being a part of a community can make you feel better by being a part of something bigger than yourself.
Studies show that helping others also increases your chances of success in recovery. So, as you plan your holiday celebrations for St. Patrick’s Day, maybe the best thing you can do is help your brothers out. It may keep both of you safe and sober for the greenest holiday of the year.
We all know that March brings warmer weather to most of the continental United States. It marks the beginning of springtime weather, when we all start to venture outside again, braving the slight chill in the air in hopes of sunshine and fresh breezes. March also marks Irish-American Heritage Month, an officially designated federal recognition. While St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th has become synonymous with alcohol overconsumption and revelry, few people know the origin and tradition of this religious festival and the traditional feast that goes along with it. For support with your sobriety, reach out to your friends at Renaissance Ranch, and call us today at (801) 308-8898.