Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Kitsap County

poulsbo — It’s that time of year again — get out your green and prepare for a fun-filled day of good food, good song and traditions.

If your family is anything like my Irish-American family, it’s time to dust off the ol’ Irish prayer book and share a few blessings before a feast with family and friends.

Here are some things you should know about St. Patrick’s Day.

St. Patrick’s Day (in Irish, Lá Fhéile Pádraig) is “the day of the festival of Patrick.”

The day is a cultural and religious celebration on March 17, the traditional death date of St. Patrick, who is credited with introducing Christianity to Ireland and is that country’s patron saint. St. Patrick died circa AD 461.

While you don’t need to be Irish to celebrate the holiday, millions do, making it one of the most popular cultural events worldwide featuring parades, festivals and pub crawls.

It’s expected roughly 56.1 percent of Americans plan to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in 2017.

Did you know that 16 U.S. places are named Dublin? And 10 to 15 percent of Washingtonians claim Irish ancestry?

A day of many toasts

With Christmas, New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July, St. Patrick’s Day is a day in which many people imbibe when they celebrate. In fact, 13 million pints of Guinness are expected to be consumed worldwide during the day of March 17, according to WalletHub. For those drinking light beer (such as Mickey’s), green food coloring is a popular addition, but not by the Irish. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to locate a pub in Ireland serving a green beer; it’s more of an American and Canadian thing.

Common with any days of celebration, there is a need to be cautious. An alcohol-related car crash claims a life on St. Patrick’s Day every 72 minutes. Call a cab.

Grab your green

Did you know the original color of St. Patrick’s Day was blue? Historians say the hue — St. Patrick’s blue, a lighter shade — can still be seen on ancient Irish flags and was used on armbands and flags by members of the Irish Citizen Army.

But green prevailed during the 1798 Irish Rebellions, when the clover became the country’s symbol of nationalism. Also, Ireland — commonly referred to as “the Emerald Isle — displays a flag with a green stripe. Irish Catholics typically wear green. The shamrock’s green also helped set the trend.

Speaking of shamrock — St. Patrick is believed to have used the shamrock to teach the Irish about the Trinity. In Ireland, people commonly wear a small bunch of shamrocks on their right breast rather than wear green clothing to signify their heritage. Shamrocks are blessed at church ceremonies all over Ireland by local priests or bishops, in what is commonly known as “Blessing of the Shamrock.”

As the popularity of St. Patrick’s Day grew in the United States, so did the tradition of wearing something green. From hats, socks, shamrock shades and tutus, people seem to celebrate Irish culture by wearing something green (and willingly give a leprechaun’s pinch to others who fail to do so).

It’s estimated that 82.5 percent of celebrants will adorn something green.

Traditional foods

While corned beef and cabbage are popular fare on St. Patrick’s Day, they’re more Irish-American than Old Country. But in order to keep up with the American-Irish Joneses, there’s a 70 percent increase in cabbage shipments during the week of the holiday. And for the health-conscious: one pound of cabbage is only 109 calories, sans the butter.

Whatever you eat, don’t forget the soda bread —and the Irish blessing. Remember this one:

“For each petal on the shamrock, this brings a wish your way —

Good health, good luck and happiness, for today and every day.”

Local events

Looking for some local events to get your Irish on? Here are a few options around Kitsap County.

St. Patrick’s Day with “Dueling Pianos” and costume contest: 6-11 p.m. March 17, McCormick Woods Golf Club, 5155 McCormick Woods Drive SW, Port Orchard. Cost: $25. Contact: 360-895-0142. Dueling Pianos is a unique rock ’n’ roll and comedy show. Reservations required. Info: www.club housemw.com/special- offers-events.

St. Patrick’s Day with Psycho Sushi: 7:30-10 p.m. March 17, Bainbridge Island Brewing, 9415 Coppertop Loop NE, Bainbridge Island. No cover. Contact: Chuck Everett, chuck@bainbridge beer.com, 206-451-4646. Local food vendors will be serving outside as well. Info: www.bainbridgebeer.com.

St. Pitties &Kitties Adoption Event: noon to 5:30 p.m. March 17 and 18, Kitsap Humane Society, 9167 Dickey Road NW Silverdale. Contact: Kimberly Cizek Allen, kcizekallen@kitsap-humane.org, 360-692-6977. Adoption fees for adult pit-bulls and pit-bull mixes half off. Adoption fees for adult cats $17. Info: www.kitsap-humane.org/event/st-pitties-and-kitties-adopt ion-event-2.

26th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 18, Sixth Street and Pacific Ave., Bremerton. Info: www.downtownbremerton.org.

Rye and Barley St. Patrick’s Day show: 6-8 p.m. March 18, Bualadh Bos (pronounced Boo-la Boss, meaning: “Clap Your Hands”) Irish Restaurant, 2712 15th St., Bremerton. No cover charge. Contact: Bob Nash, 360-990-7281. Traditional Irish songs and stories.

— Sophie Bonomi is editor of Kitsap Weekly. Contact her at sbonomi@soundpublishing.com.