St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner (March 17th), which brings us back to those school days where we had to wear green clothing for fear of getting pinched by our peers. But how did that become tradition? And why were we always served corned beef and cabbage? And what about searching for four-leaf clovers?
St. Patrick's Day Traditions
Although technically a religious holiday that celebrates the patron saint of Ireland and the arrival of Christianity, St. Patrick’s Day became a public engagement with parades, festivals, and carnivals. The day is celebrated around the world and has been a celebration in what is now the United States since 1601.
Why Do We Wear Green?
Actually, blue was the first color associated with the holiday, but that shifted in the 17th century. Green is one of the colors in Ireland’s flag, and the country is also nicknamed the “Emerald Isle” due to its green landscape. Green is also the color of the shamrock, which is the symbol of Ireland.
Why Do We Eat Corned Beef and Cabbage?
Along with potatoes, cabbage has historically been a staple of Irish diets, but it was once eaten with bacon and not corned beef. Irish immigrants in the United States couldn’t afford bacon, so they substituted it with corned beef, which was a cheaper alternative.
Why Do We Get Pinched?
One of the most stressful days of the school year was when you would show up to class on St. Patrick’s Day forgetting to wear green. The tradition is actually just an American custom. Those who originally celebrated the holiday thought wearing green made you invisible to leprechauns, who would pinch anyone they could see. If you got pinched, then it was a reminder to watch out, as the fairy creatures could sneak up on you at any minute!
Why Are Four-Leaf Clovers Lucky?
Although most often associated with St. Patrick’s Day, the clovers appear in centuries-old legends as symbols of good luck. The Celtic priests of early Ireland believed that if they carried a three-leaf clover (a shamrock), that they could see evil spirits coming and have enough time to escape. Four-leaf clovers were used as charms to bring magic and ward off bad luck. If they carried these charms, they would be able to see fairies.
What other St. Patrick’s Day traditions do you partake in? Be sure to leave a comment below!