Monday, March 17th is St. Patrick’s Day!
Saint Patrick’s Day, is only a ”legal” holiday in Ireland, but is widely celebrated around the globe and even at the International Space Station! In the United States, St. Patrick’s Day has been observed as a celebration of Irish and Irish American culture since the 18th century!
Celebrations include wearing green, eating Irish food, drinking green beer, displays of shamrocks, leprechauns, pots of gold, religious observances, and parades. It’s popularity has been credited to the fact that it occurs during the Lenten Season and all Lenten restrictions on food and drink are suspended for the day in order to celebrate the “Feast of Saint Patrick.” The lift of the Lenten restrictions is said to have “encouraged and propagated” the consumption of alcohol on St. Patty’s Day.
One of the biggest American displays of St. Patrick’s Day Pride is in Chicago, where they dye the Chicago River Green for the day!
Ever wonder where all these traditions about green, eating corned beef, pinching people and leprechauns come from? Well here you go….
Wearing Green – There are many theories about wearing the color green: It’s one of the colors of the Irish Flag; Ireland is called the “Emerald Isle,” Shamrocks are green, and green is the color of Spring. Fun fact, long ago, the color associated with St. Patrick’s Day was blue, the color associated with the Order of St. Patrick, but in 1681, green was adopted as the national color of Ireland and people started wearing green.
Shamrocks – Sacred plant in ancient Ireland because it symbolized rebirth and the arrival of Spring.
Corned Beef and Cabbage – Cabbage has been a long standing staple in the Irish diet (along with potatoes), but it was traditionally it was eaten with Irish Bacon on St. Patrick’s Day. Once in America, many Irish immigrants couldn’t afford bacon, so they used the cheaper corned beef as a substitute.
Leprechauns – Linked back to Celtic beliefs in fairies, tiny men and women that had magical powers used for good or evil. Leprechauns were cranky, short-bodied people, responsible for mending other fairies shoes and they were known for their trickery which was often used to protect their long-fabled treasure (pot of gold).
Pinching – Is only practiced as an American tradition! It was once thought that wearing green made you invisible to leprechauns - fairy creatures who would pinch anyone not wearing green. People began pinching those who didn’t wear green as a reminder that leprechauns would sneak up and pinch green-abstainers.
So, there you go…St. Patrick’s Day debunked. Hope you all have a fun day filled with trickery, pots of gold and plenty of green food and drink!