Erin Go Bragh translated to Ireland Forever, hails as the official phrase of St. Patrick’s Day!
Over the years, this holiday has turned into leprechauns, green apparel and parades. While I thoroughly enjoy these traditions (my name is Erin, after all!), I try to ensure my kids get a little history from the holiday too.
St. Patrick’s Day began as a simple holiday celebrating — you guessed it — St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland. St. Patrick was a British missionary to the Emerald Isle and has long been credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. March 17th marks the day of his death and became a religious day of feast among the Irish Catholic people.
In the late 1700s, patriotism was rampant among Irish-Americans. Irish soldiers serving in the military marched through today’s Manhattan to a tavern for a tipple and so began the evolution of the traditions and celebrations we know today.
Wearing of the Green
This tradition consists of Irishmen wearing a patch of shamrocks in their lapel pocket. Churches all over the Emerald Isle bless them in ceremonies known as the Blessing of the Shamrocks. St. Patrick, however, actually taught Christianity to the Irish people using a three-leaf clover, or shamrock, to represent the Holy Trinity. Today, the four-leaf clover is often used as a symbol of luck and people will typically don green, of any kind, from head to toe to hit the town!
This is more of an American spin on the holiday. Prior to the 1970s, you would have been hard-pressed to find a pub in Ireland open on St. Patrick’s Day, much less serving green beer! It was then that Irish law was changed to allow pubs to open on March 17th, previously a quiet, religious holiday. Today, pubs and restaurants are open, serving green beer with corned beef and cabbage!
Celtic folklore believed in fairies, also known as leprechauns, which were mischievous little creatures. It was whispered that they were invisible and if one saw you sans green on St. Patrick’s Day, the little booger would pinch you! Legend has it that if you catch one of these magical creatures, they will grant you three wishes in exchange for their freedom.
Whether you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day based on new or old traditions, there are several options right here in Chatt-Town that are fun and family-friendly!
St. Paddy’s Party on The Parkway
Unfortunately, there is no parade in Chattanooga this year, but on Saturday, March 14th, beginning at 6pm on Patten Parkway, the Party on the Parkway returns! This all-ages street party is hosted by Honest Pint and will benefit Sound Corps. The festival will celebrate with an outdoor stage, food and beer vendors and a kid zone with interactive games and crafts! Tickets start at $15 pre-sale and $25 at the gate. For more information on bands, times and vendor info click here.
West Village: St. Patrick’s Day
On March 17th from 4-11pm, the West Village is throwing a family-friendly street party with activities for kids and adults of all ages! Events will include street performers, green beer gardens, live music and a laser show along with other activities and games. There will be restaurant specials as well as local food trucks. Entry to the event is free, but activities and food costs will vary. For more information click here.
Celebrate St. Paddy’s Day at the always fun Rock City, which transforms into Shamrock City March 14, 15, 21 and 22, 2020, from 8:30am – 5pm. The famous waterfall will be GREEN! Activities include live music, Irish inspired dance performances and lessons. Be sure to pan for gold, see the Suffolk Sheep Encounter, caricature art, and even the “Blarney Stone.” There will, of course, be Irish-inspired cuisine and souvenirs.
Admission: Adult: $26.95; Children 3-12: $14.95 (FREE as an annual pass-holder)
Location: Rock City 1400 Patten Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750
Celebrate at Home
If getting out and about in the sea of green shamrocks isnt your thing, don’t miss the opportunity to learn about Irish culture and cuisine. Celebrate at home as a family or with friends! Serve up traditional foods like potato leek soup, corned beef, cabbage, soda bread and apple cake. Put on some Irish music or watch some Irish step dancing like Riverdance. If your feeling adventurous, even give it a try together as a family! Arrange some crafts for the kids like Washi tape rainbows, leprechaun puppets or Irish themed word finds.
However you choose to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year, here is an Irish Blessing to begin your holiday traditions:
May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been;
The foresight to know where you’re going
And the insight to know when you’ve gone too far!