Mar 14

Traditions: St. Patrick’s Day

I like to know the reasons behind things.  Maybe it’s still my inner child always asking “why”?   But even so, it’s important to know why we do things.  Traditions are important.  My family especially has a ton of them.  So I am starting this traditions blog series where we can discover all sorts of holiday, weddings and other lovely customs and discover how they started.

Being as it’s the week before St. Patrick’s Day, I thought this was the perfect place to start.  I have never known much about March 17th.  As a kid in school, we ate green food and colored shamrocks (and got pinched if you didn’t wear green!)  As an adult, we start partying at 6:00 a.m. and drink too much (and still pinch each other if you don’t wear green!)  But why???

Saint Patrick was a man born in Roman Britain who died on March 17th.  What a reason to celebrate!  He was actually a slave in Ireland for six years, and turned to religion for comfort.  When he was 22, he escaped and was able to return home.   He felt a calling to go back to Ireland and share his faith, for which he gained credit for bringing Christianity to the people there.

Saint Patrick used the shamrock to as a representation of the Holy Trinity.  Each of the three leaves represented the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.  The clovers grow abundantly in Ireland, and if you found a four leaf one, that was rare and also considered lucky.  They were sacred plants that symbolized the rebirth of spring.

The leprechaun.  A sneaky little fellow who refuses to share his gold with you.  Most likely, this little guy stemmed from the Celtic belief in fairies.  Fairies were small creatures that could use their powers for good or evil. The leprechaun version was a cranky one who had little to do with St. Patty’s Day until Walt Disney came along and made Darby O’Gill and the Little People, in 1959.  Today’s version on the leprechaun is pure American invention.

So why green???  Green is not traditionally the color used to honor St. Patrick.  The color blue was actually first associated with the saint.  The color seemingly has nothing to do with the beautiful shades of green on the Irish countryside or the color of the sacred clover.  Wearing of the color green most likely dates back to the 18th century, supporters of the Irish Independence wore the color green to support their cause.

And the reason behind why we pinch people who aren’t wearing green, well… I couldn’t come up with a direct answer.  I’ve read myths about leprechauns pinching people who do not wear green or green making them invisible to leprechauns. Then there is also a rumor that it stemmed from school aged children in America taunting each other for not wearing the color, and pinching each other.  I’m frankly a little confused on this issue, if you have any insight, please let me know!


I wish you all a safe holiday… don’t drink too much green beer!  And stay tuned for some pretty green pictures to be featured soon!

If you’d like to read more click here, here or here.



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