Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day

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CHARLOTTE – St. Patrick’s day is celebrated annually on March 17, which is believed to be the anniversary of St. Patrick’s death.  The patron Saint of Ireland, St. Patrick is widely credited with bringing Christianity to its people.

In the centuries surrounding his death in the fifth century, the mythology surrounding St. Patrick’s life become ingrained in Irish culture, and the Irish have observed the day of his death as a religious holiday for over 1000 years.  The first St. Patrick’s Day Parade, however, took place in America: records show it was held on March 17, 1601, in a Spanish colony in what is today St. Augustine, Florida.

New York City hosts the largest St. Patrick's Day parade in the nation.
New York City hosts the largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the nation.

St. Patrick’s Day didn’t really catch on in America, however, until the late 1700s.  On March 17, 1772, homesick Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched in New York City to honor St. Patrick.  Today, the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade is the largest in the United States with over 150K participants and 3M spectators annually.  The 1.5 mile procession takes more than five hours!  Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Savannah also host large celebrations to commemorate St. Patrick’s Day. 

Today, St. Patrick’s Day remains a celebration of Irish culture in cities big and small across the United States.  Here are some of the ways you can celebrate right here in the Charlotte area!

Irish Whiskey Tasting at Mint Hill Coffee & Social House

On Thursday, March 17 and Saturday, March 19, Mint Hill Coffee & Social House is hosting a St. Patty’s Irish Whiskey Tasting.  Experience the “luck of the Irish” while tasting four different Irish whiskies.  Light snacks will be provided.  Participants must be 21 or older to attend; space is limited, so you’ll want to buy tickets in advance!  Visit mhcoffeesocialhouse.com/events to purchase tickets.

St. Patrick’s Day Treasure Hunt at Stevens Creek Nature Preserve

Hunt for treasure this St. Patrick's Day at Stevens Creek Nature Preserve, Stallings Park and Cane Creek Park.
Hunt for treasure this St. Patrick’s Day at Stevens Creek Nature Preserve, Stallings Park and Cane Creek Park.

Put your natural knowledge to the test at Stevens Creek Nature Preserve on Saturday, March 19, when you follow the Leprechauns’ clues to find the hidden treasure!  Start at the Nature Center and choose the “short” version on the sidewalks outside the center or challenge yourself with the “long” version along 1.5 miles of easy-moderate natural surface trails.  The self-guided activity takes place from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm; it is free and appropriate for all ages.

Shamrock Hunt at Stallings Park

Leprechauns have taken over Stallings Park!  They’ve left 12 shamrocks hidden throughout the park and a list of clues to find them.  Through March 20, visit the park and find the Shamrocks, each of which will reveal a fun fact about St. Patrick’s Day.  Visit Stallings Municipal Park on Facebook for more information.

St. Patrick’s Day Treasure Hunt at Cane Creek Park

Leprechauns have visited Cane Creek Park and dropped their gold!  Come out on March 17 and help search for it.  If you find a bag of gold, bring it to the main office, and you will receive a prize plus a candy or ice cream treat!  Prizes include a Singlenest Eno Hammock, a free 2-night camping credit, and a free annual pass to visit the park.  Visit Cane Creek Park’s Facebook page for more information.

St. Patrick’s Day at Mary O Neill’s

Don't forget to wear your green this St. Patrick's Day!
Don’t forget to wear your green this St. Patrick’s Day!

Mary O’ Neill’s in Waxhaw will be offering two chances to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year in association with South Charlotte Dog Rescue.  On Thursday, March 17, they’ll be opening early for Irish breakfast from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm.  Listen to some Irish tunes under the “big tent” from Jim Gallagher at 4:00 pm, and stick around for LA Maybe headlining at 7:30 pm.  On Saturday, March 19, Mary O’ Neill’s promises to host “the big one” with food and libations starting at 9:00 am and Irish dancers and bagpipers performing throughout the day.  Local favorites Vinyl Tones will take the stage at 2:00 pm, and premier U2 cover band In the Name of Love will go live at 7:00 pm.  No tickets are necessary, but make sure to bring a spare pair of socks for dancing!  

Celebrate at Home

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day with a traditional Irish meal.
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a traditional Irish meal.

If you’d prefer to stay clear of the crowds this St. Patty’s Day, there are plenty of ways to celebrate at home!  Try a traditional Irish dish like Corned Beef and Cabbage, Bangers & Mash or Shepherd’s Pie.  Delish.com has 67 great recipe idea for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this March.  Encourage your kids to exercise their creativity and craft a trap for a leprechaun.  Find ten fun ideas for leprechaun traps at happinessishomemade.net.

May the luck o’ the Irish be with you this St. Patrick’s Day!

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Mary Beth Foster
Mary Beth Foster works part time as an essay specialist at Charlotte Latin School and full time as a mom to her eight-year-old daughter Hannah and her six-year-old son Henry. Prior to having children, she worked as a high school English teacher for nine years. Most recently, she chaired the English department at Queen's Grant High School. She and her husband have lived in Mint Hill with their children and their cats since 2011. Email: marybeth@minthilltimes.com