Sober St. Patrick’s Day: 6 Ways to Celebrate While Sober

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Most people associate St. Patrick’s Day with raucous parties, historic parades, and copious amounts of alcohol. But the holiday’s origins have little to do with these associations.

According to insights from the History Channel, St. Patrick’s Day is historically a Roman Catholic celebration marking the death of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland (who, BTW, was British, as opposed to Irish). Since the anniversary of his death falls during the Christian season of Lent—and Lent-related restrictions were typically waived for the occasion—Irish-Catholic families often attended church in the morning and then celebrated in the afternoon with the Roman Catholic Feast of St. Patrick.

Bottom line: The origins of St. Patrick’s Day are steeped in family-centric Catholic celebrations, not rowdy parades and green beer.

For those wanting to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and/or Irish heritage and traditions, there are plenty of ways to do so without alcohol. In fact, sober yet Irish-centric festivities are much closer to the true spirit of the holiday than parades and pub crawls.

6 Sober Options for St. Paddy’s Day

Despite what popular culture might lead you to believe, Ireland has far more to offer than whiskey and Guinness. Here are 6 ways to embrace Irish traditions and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day while sober.

  1. Eat (or cook) a traditional meal. Invite your sober friends to a traditional Irish meal. Or, better yet, find some recipes for Irish foods you’ve never tried, and make a meal together. Options include:
    • Irish stew.
    • Corned beef and cabbage.
    • Colcannon.
    • Bacon and cabbage.
    • Irish soda bread.
    • Crubeens.
    • Boxty.
    • Irish seafood chowder.
    • Dublin/Irish coddle.
    • Black and white pudding.
  2. Attend a parade. Parades don’t need to involve pregamming or roadies. Round up some of your sober friends and attend a parade featuring floats, street performers, marching bands, bagpipers, and plenty of community spirit.
  3. Wear green, and rock some shamrocks. Opt for subtle shades and representations, or have some fun and let your fashion sense shine with an Irish kilt, tweed cap, wool sweater, etc.
  4. Drink nonalcoholic green beverages. If you still want to imbibe while retaining sobriety, consider green nonalcoholic beverages. This could include everything from matcha green tea and green smoothies to virgin mojitos and green punch. Just Google for terms such as “nonalcoholic green drink recipes.”
  5. Participate in Irish music or dance activities. Major metropolitan areas offer Irish music- or dance-related activities centered around St. Patrick’s Day. You can spectate or participate. And remember you don’t have to be a “Lord of the Dance” to join in. Half the fun of doing is learning.
  6. Throw your own alcohol-free St. Patrick’s Day event. Get your support network together and host an event with a unique combination of some—or all—of the above.

Keep in mind that St. Patrick’s Day is just another holiday. You can choose to celebrate it, or you can let the 24 hours pass unnoticed by busying yourself with other activities. The day doesn’t even need to be a blip on your radar.

However, if St. Patrick’s Day is particularly triggering for you, bone up on other holiday-related sobriety tactics as well as relapse-prevention strategies. Here are several articles that can help you do just that:

If you’re struggling with alcohol or substance use, American Addiction Centers can help. With multiple facilities throughout the United States, all of which offer evidence-based care in accredited settings, AAC can help you or a loved one take the first steps toward recovery today. Reach out via or sign up for text support.

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