Just like every year, St. Patrick’s Day is coming up on March 17. Rivers will run green, some folks will don fake beards and green top hats, others will talk of craic and blarney, singing songs about The Rose of Tralee and The Croppy Boy. A day that originated in reverence—it’s the religious feast day for the patron saint of Ireland—St. Patrick’s Day is now equally about revelry, with parades, parties and potables leading the way. When attending a St. Paddy’s party, you won’t want to find yourself empty-handed when it comes to host gifts. Here, we present our list of gifts, like this Personalized Barware set that makes beer drinking even better. These gifts are sure to please and just might bring about the luck o’ the Irish for everyone involved. We’ve also sprinkled in some St. Patrick’s Day facts to help you be the most knowledgeable guest at the party.
May the cat eat you, and may the devil eat the cat
So you’re attending a St. Paddy’s Day party and your host says the above to you. This is bad. Best way to avoid such a curse? Bring an excellent gift for the host. Giving one of the items below will help you avoid acting the maggot, and make sure you stay on your host’s good side and keep those invitations rolling in. And if you’re hosting a party yourself, some of these will act as nice takeaways, too.
The water of life
Uisce beatha. Whiskey. This gift will never be turned down, frowned upon or go unused. Even if it’s not a St. Patrick’s Day party, a bottle of whiskey will be sure to put your host in good spirits. There’s Jameson, Green Spot, Powers, Redbreast, Tullamore Dew, Bushmill’s, Teeling—throw a dart and try something new. Go the extra mile and throw in a Personalized Whiskey Crate, one of the best drinking gifts for men, and help them enjoy their aqua vitae in style.
A slug of the mug
The story of Irish coffee began in Foynes Airbase, County Limerick, when a flight bound for Newfoundland and then New York had to turn back due to storms. Joe Sheridan, the chef at the restaurant, decided to make something special for the cold and delayed passengers, so he brewed up some coffee and added some Irish whiskey, brown sugar and freshly whipped cream. The room went silent as people sipped this concoction. Someone asked, “Hey, buddy, is this Brazilian coffee?” Joe replied, “No, that’s Irish coffee.” And the legend was born. Supply the coffee for your host with the Personalized Mug Mini Crate. It won’t go unappreciated.
Good things come in threes
The shamrock is tied up in Irish culture, so giving a plant of that variety is very Irish. Shamrock plants give an abundance of green and maybe even some good luck. Give some luck. Give a shamrock.
The wonders of wool
No shade to other folks who make woolen goods, but the Irish know how to work the yarn. And there are so many options to choose from. Try a paddy cap, or a blackwatch scarf, some Connemara socks or an Aran wool blanket.
The walking man walks
So does the walking woman. And sometimes they need a hand. Or a stick. Walking sticks originally doubled as fighting sticks, but they are still great for aiding in a stroll, short or long, and even certain parades that celebrate all things Irish. Irish blackthorn bush is a top choice for cane-makers and walking fans alike, and their knotty and thorny shapes make each one unique.
Lovely day for a Guinness (and other beers, too)
Whiskey isn’t the only drink the Irish favor. Stout, lager or ale, warm or cold, beer makes for an excellent host gift. There’s Guinness, of course, but don’t forget that Smithwick’s, Murphy’s and Beamish also make some satisfying suds. A Personalized Pint Set Ammo Can, a beer-ific gift for men, will set off those suds nicely.
Hunger is a good sauce
The Irish sure know how to turn a phrase, don’t they? While hunger can make anything taste good, sometimes it’s good to feed that hunger with something tasty. Traditional Irish snacks, like Tayto Crisps, Irish whiskey cake, or Irish soda bread, will ward off all the hungries and satisfy the taste buds. Can’t get your hands on some Taytos? Order up a Slaughterhouse Crate. It may not be Irish necessarily, but it’s full of meat and flavor and, well, that’s all you need to worry about.
What’s in the bog?!?
There have been some weird preserved things to get fished out of Irish bogs: Butter barrels, swords, ornaments, and, of course, human beings. Less seemingly interesting is bog-wood. But that bog-wood makes a worthy gift for the woodworker. It can be used to make some very cool wood carvings, like swords, butter barrels or human beings. Feeling generous? You can even include the Whiskey and Woodworking Crate to provide the tools and inspiration.
So, we already know that we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in honor of St. Patrick, but what else do you know about the day? Or, more importantly, the man/saint himself? Time for a history lesson that will prep you for the most in-depth party conversations on Irish traditions.
The man, they myth, the legend
St. Patrick’s Day, a.k.a., the Feast of Saint Patrick, or Lá Fhéile Pádraig, is celebrated as the traditional death date of St. Patrick, who, despite being the patron saint of Ireland, was—get ready for it—not actually Irish! He was also an atheist in his early years! This guy. Anyway, born to a wealthy family in 4th century Britain, Patrick was the victim of a dastardly kidnapping at age 16 by Irish pirates and taken to gaelic Ireland. There, he worked as a shepherd, and eventually rediscovered his faith, escaped, and made his way back home to became a priest. He later returned to Ireland to help convert pagans to Christianity, hence the celebration. This is also why he’s got that banishing of the snakes story attached to him. Here’s the thing, though, there were never any snakes in Ireland. The “snakes” were really the pagans, and the “banishment” was actually about the triumph of Christianity in Ireland.
St. Patrick’s Day also celebrates Irish heritage in general. There are festivals, parades and traditional Irish music sessions (céilithe), Christians attend church services, and food and alcohol Lenten restrictions are lifted for the day—much to everyone’s relief. While just plain old toasting will suffice, there is the particularly charming custom of “drowning the shamrock.” At the end of celebrations, a shamrock is put in the bottom of a cup, which is then filled with whiskey, beer or cider, and then drunk as a toast to Ireland, St. Patrick or fellow revelers. The shamrock is then either swallowed or taken out and tossed over the shoulder for good luck. Much better than drinking a worm, right?
Green has been associated with Ireland since the 1640s, when the Irish Catholic Confederation used the green harp flag, and green ribbons and shamrocks have been worn since the 1680s. The “wearing of the green” was from a song of the same name lamenting the persecution of the green-wearing United Irishmen supporters, and the color’s association with St. Patrick’s Day just continued to grow through the 19th and 20th centuries
The power of the plant
The origins of your hankering for a shamrock shake may be known only to you, but the origin of the shamrock itself is easier to explain. St. Patrick is said to have used the three-leaved plant to explain the Holy Trinity in pagan Ireland, where the number three was significant because the Irish have triple deities.
To say music is big in Ireland in an understatement. The oral culture of the Celts shared history and legends through songs and stories. Music was very important, particularly once they were banned from speaking their own language post-conquering. (The Queen decreed at one point that artists and pipers should be captured and hanged due to their ability to stir emotion and move the people). There are tons of outstanding Irish musicians and groups to choose from: The Irish Rovers, The Pogues, Planxty, The Chieftans or The Bothy Band are just a few. Need a taste before you commit? Check out Bothy Band’s Drunken Landlady. Pay no mind to the hippie duds.
Perhaps the best gift you can bring your host on St. Patrick’s Day are well wishes. Showing up in the right spirit is just as good as, if not better than, showing up with the right spirits. But if you do both, the road will surely rise up to meet you, the wind will always be at your back and your host will definitely ask you to come back next holiday.