Growing up in Ireland, I’ve seen plenty of St. Patrick’s Day traditions come and go.
Some, like the wearing of shamrocks on the lapel, are St. Patrick’s Day traditions that my grandad followed every year without fail.
Others, like ‘greening’ of landmarks are some of the newer traditions that have only made an appearance over the last decade.
Below, you’ll find a mix of old, weird and wonderful St. Patrick’s Day traditions that take place in Ireland and elsewhere,
St. Patrick’s Day Traditions in Ireland
The first section of this guide looks at the most popular St. Patrick’s Day traditions in Ireland.
The second section looks at traditions that are more popular in the likes of the US.
1. Battling the crowds to see the St. Patrick’s Day parade
Attending a parade is one of the more widely celebrated St. Patrick’s Day traditions in Ireland, mainly due to the number of parades that take place in towns, villages and cities across the island.
The streets of Ireland come alive on St. Patrick’s Day with wonderfully decorated floats, musical acts and community groups doing their thing all in the name of Ireland’s Patron Saint.
2. Or kicking back on the couch to watch it on the tele
If you don’t fancy leaving the house, not too worry – you can still kick-back and watch the Dublin parade on the television (RTE).
The coverage of the parade is generally shown on stations across the world pulling in an audience of millions, with people looking to see what it’s like to spend St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland.
3. The wearing of green
One of the more common St. Patrick’s Day traditions in Ireland and elsewhere is the wearing of green.
Now, wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day doesn’t have to mean lashing on face paint and dyeing your hair green – a green tie or a green pair of socks will do the job just fine!
4. Escaping the city
I live in Dublin and, over my last 33 St. Patrick’s Days spent here, I’ve never spent the day in the city as it gets far too crowded.
St. Patrick’s Day is a bank holiday in Ireland which means for many a day off of work!
So, myself and many others tend to dodge the crowds and either head to the coast or the Dublin Mountains for the day.
5. Traditional food
One of the more popular St. Patrick’s Day traditions in Ireland amongst older generations is to serve up traditional Irish foods.
Colcannon (mashed potato, kale and onions), Coddle (a casserole of pork sausages, potatoes and Guinness) or other traditional Irish fare is usually on the menu in most homes and restaurants on St Patrick’s Day.
6. St Patrick’s Day mass services
All denominations of churches hold St. Patrick’s Day prayers to remember St Patrick on the anniversary of his passing.
He was one of the earliest missionaries to bring Christianity to Ireland and, while the St. Patrick and the snakes legend is fictional, he is revered as the patron saint of Ireland.
7. The ‘greening’ of landmarks
Many heritage parks, fountains and notable landmarks in Ireland turn green around St Patrick’s Day.
Green lights illuminate Dublin Castle, Áras an Uachtaráin, the Four Courts, Kilmainham Gaol, Kilkenny Castle, the Rock of Cashel, Sligo Abbey and Athenry Castle in the run-up to St Patrick’s Day.
8. Doing very non St. Patrick’s day related activities
One of the most popular St. Patrick’s Day traditions in Ireland is to… do very non St. Patrick’s Day activities.
As mentioned earlier, it’s an Irish national holiday and many people choose to celebrate in their own way.
Outside the cities, some people choose to head out for the day while others treat it as just another day.
St. Patrick’s Day traditions more commonly celebrated in the US
So, there are many St. Patrick’s Day traditions that are not from Ireland and that popped up elsewhere.
Below, you’ll find everything from green beer and Irish themed movies to some of the more unusual St. Patrick’s Day traditions.
1. Green beer and themed desserts
Many people tend to use green dye in abundance around March 17th. You’ll regularly see green deserts and foods that look like they’d stain your teeth for a month.
Another popular one is to pick up one of the various Irish beers and lash in a load of green dye. Apparently there’s no taste off of it…
2. The watching of Irish themed movies
There’s some great Irish movies out there that are well worth a watch at any time of the year.
While many flock to the likes of PS I Love You, the likes of the Banshees of Inisherin, the Van, the Field and the Commitments are other excellent options.
3. Eating corned beef and cabbage
Corned beef and cabbage is served in restaurants from Florida to New York on St. Patrick’s Day.
Originally Irish bacon was a favourite, but Irish Americans introduced more affordable corned beef in the early 1900s along with cabbage, another cheap staple.
4. Sampling Irish drinks
If you fancy a tipple on St. Patrick’s Day, there’s a wide selection of Irish whiskey brands, Irish gins, Irish beers, Irish stouts and Irish cider on offer globally.
Here are some guides for you to hop into if you’re in need of some inspiration:
- 17 Tasty St. Patrick’s Day drinks To Whip Up At Home
- 18 Traditional Irish Cocktails That Are Easy To Make
- 14 Delicious Jameson Cocktails To Try This Weekend
- 15 Irish Whiskey Cocktails That’ll Tantalise Your Tastebuds
FAQs about St. Patrick’s Day customs
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘What are some things associated with St. Patrick’s Day?’ to ‘What’s an easy tradition to start?’.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below. Here are some related reads you should find interesting:
- 73 Funny St. Patrick’s Day Jokes For Adults And Kids
- The Best Irish Songs And The Best Irish Films Of All Time For Paddy’s Day
- 8 Ways That We Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day In Ireland
- 17 Tasty St. Patrick’s Day Cocktails To Whip Up At Home
- How To Say Happy St. Patrick’s Day In Irish
- 5 St. Patrick’s Day Prayers And Blessings For 2023
- 17 Surprising Fact’s About St. Patrick’ Day
- 33 Interesting Facts About Ireland
What are some traditions on St Patricks Day in Ireland?
Attending parades, meeting for drinks with friends, old Irish foods and attending St. Patrick’s Day mass services are some of the more notable traditions in Ireland.
How do you respectfully celebrate St Patrick’s Day?
Avoiding any printed material that says something like ‘Irish yoga’ with a picture of a leprechaun passed out is a good start. Use common sense and you’ll be fine.