St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner (it’s just one short week away!) and there’s so much to do in D.C. to celebrate all things Irish. It’s a pretty big deal here in the US and it’s the only non-American national day recognized in The White House. As he does every year, the President himself will be welcoming the Irish Prime Minister (who brings real Irish shamrocks) to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Many people think celebrating St. Patrick’s Day is all about partying. Sure Ireland is the home of Guinness and many great Irish whiskeys, but the Emerald Isle has so much more too offer the world.
Ireland is the motherland of some of the world’s greatest and most creative poets, writers, actors, designers, dancers, and artists. So why not celebrate this day by embracing the Irish culture?
There are loads of great events happening in D.C. over the next few days, but you can even take part in the festivities from the comfort of your home (or dorm!). Here are 7 authentic ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in D.C.
1. Experience the St. Patrick’s Day Parade
St. Patrick’s Day Parades are one of the most famous ways to celebrate the Irish culture. They are held all over the world and Washington D.C.’s 44th Annual St. Patrick’s Parade takes place on Sunday, March 15, 2015. The parade will start at 12:00 noon and is expected to finish at 2:30 p.m. The parade will proceed down Constitution Avenue from 7th to 17th Streets, N.W.
If you’ve never been to a St. Patrick’s Day Parade before you can expect to see plenty of decorated floats, marching bands, Irish dancers, military units and of course a lot of green! St. Patrick himself may even make an appearance!
2. Enjoy A Traditional Irish Music Session
The Irish are famed for their Traditional Irish music sessions (or trad sessions). Trad sessions are informal gatherings where people sing and play Irish music with traditional Irish instruments. Anyone can join in and enjoy the music, so if you’re looking for something different to do to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, this could be just the thing for you.
In D.C., Nanny O’Brien’s on Connecticut Ave is famous for their trad sessions, so be sure to see what all the fuss is about during the St. Patrick’s celebrations.
3. Watch An Authentic Irish Movie
Watching an authentic Irish movie is a great alternative to partying this March 17th. From the great famine to mass emigration, the fight for Independence and the troubles in Northern Ireland, the Irish have been through a lot. These stories and struggles have been made into some amazing academy award winning movies. There are also some light-hearted and funny movies too, so there’s bound to be something for everyone.
Here is a quick round-up of just a few movies you could watch:
- The Quiet Man
- The Field
- Into The West
- The Secret of Roan Inish
- Michael Collins
- In The Name of The Father
- My Left Foot
- Some Mother’s Son
- The Guard
- Waking Ned Devine
- The Wind That Shakes The Barley
- Angela’s Ashes
- The War of The Buttons
4. Read A Piece of Great Irish Literature
Oscar Wilde, William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Seamus Heaney, Patrick Kavanagh, George Bernard Shaw… The list of Ireland’s literary geniuses is endless. Literature has long been one of Ireland’s greatest exports, so what better way to celebrate the Irish culture than to enjoy some of the amazing work they shared with the world?
5. Take Irish Dance Lessons
Traditional Irish dance has been celebrated and praised for centuries. As Irish people emigrated around the world, they took their cultural traditions with them and now schools of Irish dancing can be found everywhere from Tokyo to Sydney and right back here to D.C. There are a few different forms of Irish dancing, but one in particular – the set dance – gained worldwide popularity in 1994 with the phenomenally successful show, Riverdance.
Many people still feel a connection to Irish heritage through dance and it’s never too late to try it out. There are plenty of Irish Dance Schools throughout the D.C. area. You could embrace your inner dancing queen (or king!) now and show off your new dancing skills by March 17th.
6. Eat An Irish Breakfast
Eating traditional Irish food is a great way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, so why not kick the day off with a traditional Irish breakfast? A traditional Irish breakfast consists of eggs, rashers (Irish bacon), pork sausages, grilled tomato, baked beans, mushrooms, and black and white puddings —which are basically cakes of congealed blood and pork respectively.
I know the last items don’t sound too appetizing, but it won’t be a real Irish breakfast without them. They are surprisingly tasty too – I tried them out on my last trip around Ireland. For a real Irish breakfast, try to top it all off with some really strong Irish breakfast tea.
If you want to try it out, most of the Irish bars around D.C. serve Irish breakfasts. If an Irish breakfast isn’t for you, then how about making an Irish stew?
7. Learn Some Irish
Although the majority of Irish people are fluent english speakers, there actually is an Irish language. It is one of the three different forms of Gaelic that exist, so why not learn a few Irish words to celebrate the big day?
Start small by learning words such as hello, goodbye or cheers. Here’s some help to get you started…
When you want to say hello in Irish, typically the first person to say hello says “Dia dhuit” (which literally means “God be with you”). The person responding should say, “Dia is Muire dhuit” (which is literally means “God and Mary be with you”).
Saying goodbye is a little simpler. In Irish goodbye is slán.
If you want to give a toast in Irish or say cheers, then the word you are looking for is sláinte (which literally means health).
I don’t know about you guys, but I know I’ll celebrate this St. Patrick’s Day by trying some of these out. Top of my list for this weekend is to immerse myself in some of Seamus Heaney’s poetry (he won the Noble Prize for his work!). Then I’ll sit back and relax by watching one of the movies. How are you going to celebrate?