How Can I Safely Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day This Year?

Skip out on the bar crowds this year for live-streamed music and heavy pours at home.


Welcome to “One Last Question,” a series where research editor Matthew Reed Baker tackles your most Bostonian conundrums. Have a question? Email him at [email protected].


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Question:

St. Patrick’s Day is like my Irish New Year’s Eve…I always go out! But since I haven’t gotten my COVID vaccine yet, I’m pretty nervous about being around a crowd. Any ideas for celebrating the day in the same way at home? —K.S., Weymouth

Answer:

O faith and begorra, K.S., in any other year I’d be delighted to sing “The Wild Rover” with you over a pint (or seven) of Guinness at the Black Rose. Like many Americans, I myself am quite a mongrel, with a heritage primarily German, then Irish, English, Polish, and Dutch. But if there’s a time of year when I ignore everything but my Celtic percentage and tumble out a whole bunch of stale cod-Irish clichés, it’s St. Patrick’s Day! And yet, sadly…the idea of a pandemic St. Patrick’s Day risks replacing this ebullient elation with enervating ennui. Social distancing during this most social of celebrations only serves as a sad reminder that we’ve been quarantined a full year since last March.

Even if the public shamrocks and shenanigans continue to some degree this month, I’m planning to stay home, too. But look at it this way: Perhaps this is the year to freshen up some old traditions by breaking them. For one, don’t try to make your own corned beef and cabbage—it won’t taste as good if it’s not eaten at your local pub. Instead, use the fact that modern-day people in Ireland eat all kinds of global foods as an excuse to order takeout from your favorite local restaurant, no matter what they serve. If you’re interested in virtual live music, check out the websites of Irish TV network TG4 as well as the Ministry of Folk, which was founded by musicians in Boston and Washington, DC, last April to give their fellow fiddlers and bodhrán bashers a chance to connect with audiences while venues are shut down.

And who knows? Maybe for this one year, you’ll be able to appreciate some unforeseen benefits of doing St. Patrick’s Day at home. For one, you can avoid the same ol’ music at the bars and be your own DJ. May I recommend branching out from the traditional Dubliners with the Irish hard-rock heroes Thin Lizzy or Belfast’s big-beat electronica master David Holmes? Whatever you listen to, you can dance as silly as you want without crashing into people, there will be no line for the bathroom, and you won’t need to summon an Uber to get home. And if you end up going a bit overboard with the Jameson, at least you’ll wake up knowing you can transition into nursing that hangover with a homemade fry-up, brown soda bread, and beans. Stay safe, and sláinte!