Over the years, this holiday has turned into leprechauns, green apparel and parades. While I thoroughly enjoy these traditions, 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. Patrick’s Day in Chatty
History Happy Hour: St. Patty’s Day Edition
History Happy Hour is back! Join Siema Swartzel, the music teacher at Arnold Elementary as she shares her stories of Irish music, Appalachia, and her travels to Ireland. Swartzel has introduced traditional Irish music to her students in her class, and is from Southwest Virginia, as the daughter of a coal miner. Growing up in this region populated largely by European immigrants, Swartzel was surrounded by Appalachian music, including bluegrass. Always fascinated with her ancestral roots, she traveled to Ireland through a grant where she trained with musicians and brought these lessons back to Arnold Elementary. Swartzel will be speaking about her own experiences and about the similarities between Celtic and Appalachian music. Appetizers and Open Bar included with your ticket purchase. Tickets are FREE for sponsor level members and above, $15 for other members, and $25 for non-members.
3rd Annual Chattanooga Shamrock Run
Join in the festive fun for a St. Patrick’s Day run along the Tennessee River. Races will be held on Saturday, March 12. For more information, click here.
St. Patrick’s Day Cocktails
March means spring, but it also means St. Patrick’s Day! Join us as Kaleena Goldsworthy of The Bitter Bottle teaches you how to make three delicious St. Patrick’s themed cocktails and the basic skills needed to replicate these tasty drinks at home or for your themed party! At the end of the class, everyone will leave with access to the recipe cards and instructions on how to impress your family and friends! Please note: masks are required. Wednesday, March 16th at 6pm at The Chattery. For more information, click here.
Looking for the luck of the Irish? Visit Rock City’s 15th annual Irish celebration and festival—Shamrock City! This premiere St. Patrick’s Day event features Irish food, specialty beer from Chattanooga Brewing Company, pop-up Irish dancing performances, Suffolk sheep, a miniature Scottish Highland Cow, and fun for the whole family! You can even see the High Falls flowing green! Visit and see why the Southeast Tourism Society has consistently chosen Shamrock City as a Top 20 Event!
Dates: 3/13, 3/13, 3/20, 3/21
Location: Rock City 1400 Patten Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750
Celebrate at Home
If getting out and about in the sea of green shamrocks isn’t 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 you’re 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!
Be sure to check out Chattanooga Easter Events coming up after St. Patrick’s Day!