Alas, my friends, we have finally emerged from the darkness into the glorious light of day.

After years of struggling to strike a balance between sacrifice and suffering, we can now imbibe free of burden as Saint Patrick’s Day returns, in all its glory, to the weekend.

No more choosing between calling in sick or being hungover at work. No more settle-brating with a green shirt and a corned beef latte or whatever holiday special Starbucks is pumping out.

It turns out, as some English theologian (or, if you like it nerdy, Harvey Dent) once said, the night truly is darkest just before the dawn.

While Saint Patrick’s Day originated more than a millennium ago as a feast day in celebration of the patron saint of Ireland, it has evolved into a commercialized holiday that essentially exists to serve as a sort of Christmas for alcohol enthusiasts.

This year, you are free to spend March 17 however you please. And oh, do you have choices.

The downtown crowd

The Leprechaun Crawl is happening March 11 with $3 drink specials and lots of green eye candy. Plaid schoolgirl skirts and four-leaf clover pasties for the gents to ogle and, for the ladies, beards and ... kilts?

You can buy a cup online for $5 or wait for the event. It starts at 8 p.m. March 11 at the Waterfall and Rum Bullions. On top of the drink specials, there will be a costume contest and no cover at participating bars.

A tradition unlike any other

While Crawl Reno does a great job with pub crawls all year round, maybe you need a break from downtown or just want to hit some of the great Irish pubs around. If that’s the case, the second annual Mega Ultra St. Paddy’s Day Irish Dive Bar Pub Crawl Extravaganza is just for you (still waiting for somebody to make T-shirts).

Just in case you’re one of the few people who doesn’t remember what that is, the Mega Ultra St. Paddy’s Day Irish Dive Bar Pub Crawl Extravaganza is the “create your own pub crawl” pub crawl on Wells Avenue. Is it a real thing? No, but it should be.

Wells Avenue is home to several great Irish pubs like Filthy McNasty’s (with a name like that, you know it’s good. Still.), Lucke’s Saloon and Ryan’s Saloon (RIP Corrigan’s) all ready for a rowdy St. Paddy’s Day. If you’re looking for a great way to spend your holiday, these fine establishments have you covered.

Ceol is perfect if you're looking for one-stop shopping. It's celebrating its 10th St. Paddy's Day with live entertainment, the usual beverages and the Codfather food truck serving corned beef and fish and chips. The party is going till midnight, so get their early enough to enjoy.

Green beer is for pansies

OK, it’s actually fine and it will probably save you a few bucks and you’ll probably end up having fun and getting every bit as toasty as you set out to get, so, if you’re binging on a budget, whatever.

Green beer just isn’t very authentic and it’s not like you’re going to start throwing back Bud Originals with blue food coloring the next time July 4 rolls around, are you?

Stick to the main food groups: Irish whiskey, Irish cider, Irish coffee, Irish cream liqueur. Oh, and Guinness. Lots of lots of Guinness. They also have other beers in Ireland. Those are acceptable as well.

If you hear the word “poitin” (pronounced something like “pot-cheen”), run. Or don’t, just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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