Drinking on St. Patrick's Day is customary due to an old Irish legend.
(Tribune News Services)

St. Patrick’s Day celebrates the conversion of Irish pagans to Christianity by the patron Saint Patrick. When Irish immigrants came to the United States, St. Patrick’s Day was a day to celebrate Irish customs.

The tradition of wearing green came from the Irish flag and several revolutionary Irish groups using green flags throughout history and the lush, green lands of Ireland.

Potatoes and cabbage are a customary meal because the Irish have always eaten them. Besides the clothes, food and getting pinched, St. Patrick’s Day can be an excuse to excessively drink alcohol.

An Irish legend known as Pota Phadraig or Patrick’s Plot is a famous way to start the drinking custom. It is said Saint Patrick noticed an innkeeper was selling less than half a glass of whiskey for the price of a full glass.

Patrick continued to tell him an evil devil lived in the cellar of the inn, thriving off the dishonesty of the innkeeper. The only way to get rid of the devil was to change his ways and be honest. Patrick returned to the inn a long while afterward and noticed the innkeeper filling his customer’s glasses to the brim instead of half full.

While Guinness Beer and Irish whiskey are usually consumed on this holiday, it’s important to remember to have fun, but also to be safe. Drinking can be enjoyable when the situation isn’t toxic.

Moderate drinking could be defined as the amount of alcohol that can be consumed without causing any harm for most adults over 21. Moderate drinkers usually keep their alcohol intake to one or two drinks a day. A “drink” is considered to be 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine or one and a half ounces of liquor.

The type of drinking that is most prevalent on college campuses, clubs or bars and among teens is binge drinking. Binge drinking is usually considered four to five drinks within a short period of time.

According to publicsafety.utah.gov, 1,400 college students are killed each year in alcohol-related incidents. The number of college students injured due to alcohol averages around 500,000.

To avoid a fun night turning into a tragedy, it’s smart to examine the situation before taking the first sip of alcohol. A good first step is to make sure everyone you’re drinking with is 21. Underage drinking can result in the younger person getting severely hurt, not to mention it is against the law and those who are of age are going to be held responsible.

Trusting everyone you’re drinking with is also something to pay attention to. Know how your friends or family are when they drink. Some people get violent or aggressive when they drink. Understanding a situation can also help people steer clear of date rape and sexual assault. It also doesn’t hurt to know the national date rape hotline number: 724-656-STOP.

In 2013 there were more than 11,600 arrests for drunk driving in Utah. There were 39 deaths relating to drinking and driving, which was 16 percent of traffic-related fatalities. The AAA Tipsy Tow Program is an alternate if anyone needs to get home safely and has been drinking. AAA members can receive a free ride home on St. Patrick’s Day from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

For underage drinkers, SADD is a program that will pick anyone up who has signed a contract with their parents to be a part of their program. SADD will also provide a safe environment so the youth of the U.S. will have someone to go to if they drink and can’t drive. More information can be found at www.sadd.org. Although this program exists, no one underage should be drinking alcohol.

Remember St. Patrick’s Day is a day to celebrate historical traditions with friends and family, so get your green on, have fun and be safe!

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