St. Patrick’s Day is supposed to be a holiday to celebrate the saint who, they say, drove the snakes from Ireland. It has long been a day of particularly rowdy celebration because the saint’s day is a break in the middle of Lenten fasting, a day when Irish Catholics are allowed to cut loose during an otherwise sober holiday leading up to Easter. Unfortunately, many people have taken this religious celebration and turned it into a booze-drenched day of debauchery, followed by a daylong hangover. It doesn’t have to be that way, and you can be among the many people taking back St. Pat’s Day.
Sober St. Patrick’s Day New York
The modern movement to take back St. Patrick’s Day and fill it with family-friendly sober celebrations began in New York City in 2012. The founder of Sober St. Patrick’s Day, a group dedicated to hosting drunk-free celebrations, was inspired by what he saw at New York’s annual parade. William Reilly had watched as alcohol nearly took the life of someone close to him, and while seeing young people get wasted at the parade, in the middle of the day, he was inspired to act. Today the organization has spread around the world and hosts several parties and daylong events dedicated to celebrating St. Patrick and everything Irish without drunkenness. Events in New York, Belfast, Cleveland, Dublin and other cities have sold out in previous years. If you’re lucky enough this year to be near one of the cities hosting a Sober St. Patrick’s Day event, get your tickets now and get ready to experience the best of Irish culture, without the drinking.
Sober Campus Celebrations
College campuses are also getting in on the drink-free St. Patrick’s Day bandwagon. On campuses where binge drinking is the rule rather than the exception, St. Patrick’s Day is a big party day. Binge drinking on college campuses is dangerous and causes up to 1,800 deaths, 690,000 assaults and 599,000 injuries every year. The excessive drinking also contributes to academic, health and legal problems for students. On St. Patrick’s Day, many students use the holiday as an excuse to binge throughout the day and increase their risks of accidents, deaths and injuries even more. Fortunately many colleges and even the students themselves are trying to turn this around and are introducing sober student groups and events, including sober St. Patrick’s Day parties. At many schools, these events are started by students in recovery. The daylong drinking party that is St. Patrick’s Day can be overwhelming for someone struggling to stay sober, so many of these students created their own fun and sober events, inviting all interested students to participate. As one example, Students for Recovery, a group at the University of Michigan, hosts a sober skating party at the university’s ice arena on St. Patrick’s Day. Anyone can host a sober St. Patrick’s Day event, big or small. If you are inspired by these stories to create your own, go for it. You can host a get-together with friends and family or go big and start a communitywide event. Contact the Sober St. Patrick’s Day organization if you need help with an event in your hometown. You can also contact local sober groups to get something started. However you do it, having a sober holiday this year will be the best choice you make.