Ireland may have the edge when it comes to celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, but that doesn’t mean that people from other countries need to forgo the festivities. On this holy day of sainthood and green beer, everyone gets to proudly flaunt their Irish ancestry. Whether you’re 1/4th or 1/4875 th part Irish, it still counts! Bring the luck o’ the Irish to your day by celebrating like they do on the Emerald Isle.
To properly celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, you’ll need to line your stomach before heading out to a pub. The best way to do this is to have a traditional Irish meal. Though cabbage, ham, and mashed potatoes are popular Irish foods, unleash your inner adventurer and sample some of the more unique Irish dishes, such as Irish stew (made with Guinness, naturally), soda bread (top with good quality butter for ultimate deliciousness), boxty (potato pancakes), or black pudding (taste it before asking what’s in it).
On St. Patty’s Day, bars and pubs all try to outdo themselves with green decorations and drinks. The most popular drink on this day is any kind of beer with green food coloring added. While this can help you get into a celebratory mood, it is not authentically Irish. If you want to sample a genuine Irish beer, try a pint of Guinness. This dark, creamy stout is a staple in Irish pubs. They love Guinness so much that there’s even an Irish joke that a person could survive on Guinness alone, because of its various vitamins and minerals. If you’re not a fan of beer, you can still celebrate the Irish way by having Irish whiskey. Order a round of drinks for your friends and say cheers with the traditional Irish word: sláinte (pronounced “slahn-cha”).
There’s nothing like an upbeat Irish jig to bring out your inner Michael Flately or Jean Butler, and thanks to Riverdance, this style of dance has become a worldwide phenomenon. There are two main types of Irish dancing. The first is step dancing, which uses shoes similar to tap shoes. To step dance, move your feet at the speed of light while keeping your arms and upper body rigid and motionless. The second type of dance uses a soft shoe, called a ghillie (pronounced “gilly,” with a hard g). Jigs and reels are soft shoe dances, and though many of these dances have set steps to specific songs, don’t be afraid to improvise. Grab a partner and hit the dance floor!
Irish slang may be a bit difficult to understand at first, but there are a few easy words and phrases that you use without studying Gaelic. In Ireland, fun is often referred to as craic (pronounced “crack”). Craic refers to all aspects of a fun time out: the laughter, the banter, the drinking, the music, and the dancing. It can also be used to ask how you’re doing, as in “what’s the craic?” or “how’s the craic?” Other Irish words to use include fáilte (pronounced “fall-cha” and means “welcome”), mammy (mother), grand (great) and–if your night gets completely out of control–garda (police). With these tips, your teeth will be safe from green stains, your belly will be full of delicious Irish food and beer, and your feet will be tapping along like you’re Riverdance star. Have a drink, have a toast, have a dance, and be sure to have a grand time, because that is absolutely the best way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in true Irish style.