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Where Can I Find a Sober St. Patrick’s Day?

by Will Long

March 14, 2023
sober irishman

Where is Sober St. Patrick’s Day?

For most people, St. Patrick’s Day is the perfect opportunity to celebrate all things Irish while indulging in green beer and whiskey. It’s estimated that more people consume alcohol on March 17th than any other day of the year. In 2022, there was a 174% increase in beer purchases and a 153% increase in spirit purchases on St. Patrick’s Day. For those in recovery from alcohol use disorder (AUD), finding activities and events that don’t include drinking can be difficult, but individuals in New York City are changing that. 

What is Sober St. Patrick’s Day?

Sober St. Patrick’s Day is an annual event held in New York City aimed at changing the perception of the Irish holiday from an occasion to binge drink to a celebration of the richness of Irish culture and the legacy of St. Patrick. Held at the Church of Our Saviour (59 Park Ave. & East 38th St.) the event began in 2012 and includes a parade, traditional Irish music and dancing, storytelling, non-alcoholic refreshments and a noon mass. 

The event is organized by the Sober St. Patrick’s Day Foundation, but was created by William Spencer Reilly, a theater and television producer, who lost a family member to addiction in 2004. The idea for a sober version of St. Patrick’s Day was originally proposed to leaders in the recovery and Irish-American communities. Sober St. Patrick’s Day in NYC will be held March 17, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at The Church of Our Savior Undercroft.

The History of St. Patrick’s Day

The patron saint and apostle of Ireland, Saint Patrick was born as Maewyn Succat in Roman Britain and brought to Ireland at age 16 as a slave. After escaping, he returned to Ireland and is now credited with bringing Christianity to the Irish and using the three leaves of their national flower, the shamrock, to explain the Holy Trinity. 

March 17th, the anniversary of his death in the later part of the fifth century, marks his feast day and was originally celebrated as a religious holiday. This day served as a break from Lent, the 40-day period of abstinence leading up to Easter. Religious services were held and Irish businesses, including pubs, were required to remain closed in observance until the late 1900s. 

Secular celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day eventually began in the late 1700s, and the United States’ association of beer with the holiday began after a St. Patrick’s Day-themed marketing campaign by Budweiser in the 1980s.

Sobering Facts about St. Patrick’s Day

Despite its religious origins, modern St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the United States are heavily equated with binge drinking.

  • From 2016 to 2020, 287 lives were lost in drunk driving accidents during the holiday period
  • In 2020, 36% of car crash deaths involved a drunk driver
  • On St. Patrick’s Day in 2020, about one person died every hour in drunk driving accidents.
  • 75% of fatal car crashes involved a driver whose blood alcohol concentration was more than two times over the legal limit.

How to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day Without Drinking

  • Make some St. Patrick’s Day mocktails
  • Embrace Irish culture by listening to Irish music, watching movies, or cooking a traditional Irish meal
  • Attend a parade with other sober friends
  • Attend a support group meeting
  • Participate in one of the many marathons and half-marathons being held worldwide.

For more tips on enjoying holidays without drugs and alcohol, call 888-448-0302 to speak to a recovery specialist at Landmark Recovery.

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About the Author

Will Long

Will Long

A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, Long has been a writer for Landmark Recovery since 2021. He specializes in research and writing about substance abuse from a scientific and social perspective. Unearthing information from underexplored, far-flung corners of the Internet, Long’s passion is finding emerging trends in substance use and treatment that the public should know about.