Pubs are a popular place for students to go nearly every weekend, but in March everything will get kicked up a notch for the annual celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in Florence. The luck of the Irish will spread to the continent and students and locals alike will dress in green for the festivities. For the Irish expat looking for a bit of home to students looking for a fun night out, there is no lack for exciting activities all themed around the traditional Irish holiday.
Saint Patrick started out life in Roman Britain in the fourth century. Both his father and grandfather held positions in the church, but life changed drastically for him when at age 16 he was kidnapped as a slave and taken to Ireland. In a dream God told him to flee his captivity and when he returned to Britain he began to study as a priest. Later on, he felt called to return to Ireland and preach, and it is there that he is buried. He is the principal person remembered for championing Christianity in Ireland.
Ironically, the color blue was originally associated with St. Patrick, who was awarded a feast day in the early 1600s. Eventually the green that is now associated with the holiday overtook the other color. Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are lifted for the day, and Irish celebrate with wild abandon. It is said that Patrick used the shamrock, a three-leaf clover, to teach the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish, thus establishing its association with Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day. The Irish have a national holiday for the day, but in Italy it is necessary to celebrate around other commitments like work and school.
If you can’t get away long enough to catch a flight to Ireland for the real celebrations, Florence has some good options for marking the occasion. The biggest event celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Florence is “Irlanda in Festa” which is a big Irish-themed festival that typically runs for several days around St. Patrick’s Day. There is traditional Irish dancing as well as traditional music and food. Another sure place to hit up is Finnegan’s, the only official Irish pub in Florence, which will be sure to have some themed festivities going on to celebrate. Some organizations run bar crawls that include a stop at Finnegan’s, if that is your preferred style. Regardless of where you are celebrating, just make sure to wear green to commemorate the day—as well as to avoid pinches by Americans following their own tradition!