Though the holiday's origins are of a religious nature (Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is best known for converting pagans to Christianity in the 5th century), in this country St. Patrick's Day is just another excuse to party. Here are some suggestions for a real Irish craic (it's not what you think, look it up), and only a few involve beer, green or otherwise.
(River) dance in the streets.
The fifth annual Los Angeles City St. Patrick's Day Parade promises plenty of high-kickin' action, not to mention lunchtime traffic. Things probably won't get too unruly, though -- grand marshal Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell of the LAPD leads the lineup. Wednesday, 11:30 a.m.; starts at 4th and Flower streets and ends 12:45 p.m. at 5th and Olive streets.
Drink a Shamrock shake.
Now through March 31, you can pick up the creamy green concoction at participating Mickey D's. Or, if you're an anti-fast-food, make your own. From Foodgeeks.com: Combine 2 cups vanilla ice cream, 1 1/4 cups 2% reduced-fat milk, 1/4 tsp. mint extract and 8 drops green food coloring in a blender and mix on high speed until smooth. Pour into 12-ounce cups and serve each with a straw (makes 2 servings).
Get a tattoo.
Shamrock Social Club tattoo artist -- and proud Irishman -- Mark Mahoney marks the holiday in his very permanent way with $25 shamrock tattoos. Since the shop's minimum for a color piece is $65, it's a bargain. And his party across the street at the Key Club that night features music by Hellbound Hayride and others. Wednesday, tattoos from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m., 9026 Sunset Blvd. (310) 271-9664.
Chuckle with an Irish lass.
Kathy Griffin, known for gossipy humor about celebs and culture, famously told all about her plastic surgeries last year in People magazine: "I'm Irish, and I have the bad Irish teeth. So I went to a dentist and asked for soap-opera teeth. While they're making your new teeth, they have to whittle your own down to pegs. I looked like a turn-of-the-century prostitute. He gave me some temporary teeth, but one fell out when I was on the Jimmy Kimmel show. I gave it to Jimmy. That was brutal." Wednesday, 8 p.m., the Laugh Factory, 8001 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. (323) 656-1336.
Don't get pinched.
Avoid the overzealous fingers of someone who notices "you're not wearing green!" by throwing on a splash of the color. Or make a real statement, with, say, green hair extensions. Punky hair salon the Purple Circle offers a wide array of shades. Purple Circle, 1724 N. Vermont Ave. (323) 666-2965.
Have a "Leprechaun" film festival.
The impish lads with their proverbial pots o' gold gained a creepy, comical aura in the six -- yes, there are six -- movies in this franchise. The first even featured a pre-"Friends" Jennifer Aniston. By the end, he's a ghetto-fab slang-talker in "Tha Hood" who wreaks havoc to get back his stolen bling.
Rock yer knickers off.
Meshing traditional Irish sounds with unbridled punk-rock urgency, L.A.'s own Flogging Molly makes for a boisterous St. Patty's Day bash. They take the Key Club stage at noon as part of an Indie 103.1 party. Playing at an even earlier hour, the equally ferocious Dropkick Murphys (from Boston, no less) will shake up Dublin's on Sunset as part of the KROQ Breakfast Show at 6 a.m.; lineups begin at 5 a.m. The Murphys also play the Wiltern on Tuesday, the night before. Key Club, 9039 W. Sunset Blvd.
(310) 274-5800. Dublin's, 8240 W. Sunset Blvd. (323) 656-0100. The Wiltern, 3790 Wilshire Blvd. (213) 388-1400.
Party with the fairest of them all.
The second annual Irish Fair & Music Festival (www.la-irishfair.com) offers Ren-like storytellers and Celtic crooners, as well as dancing troupes, sheep-herding demonstrations, an Irish dog show and cute little Connemara ponies. Saturday-Sunday,
10 a.m.-6 p.m., the Fairplex at the Pomona Fairgrounds, 1101 W. McKinley Ave., Pomona.
$14. (310) 537-4240.
If you decide to join the throngs of beer-guzzlin' bar-hoppers, remember to be safe, be patient and be generous. "It's our busiest day and night," Molly Malone's manager Damian Hanlon says. "We try to get to everyone as quickly as possible but you might not get the personal attention that you would on another night.... Tips can go either way because of this." Use a designated driver, Hanlon reminds, and maintain a good attitude. "It's a day to let just a little of the Irish come out in all of us." Molly Malone's, 575 S. Fairfax Ave. (323) 935-1577.