Thursday, March 17, 2016

St Patricks Day and Traditions

Leaf, Clover, Saint, Patrick, Irish Happy St. Patrick's Day to everyone.  Have you noticed that its a day celebrated by anyone who believes they have a drop of blood or want to be Irish. Have you every wondered about the tons of traditions we associate with the day come from?

 I know there is one you've participated in.  The one where you pinched someone who wasn't wearing green only to find out they had green socks. It turns out that no one is sure where that one came from.  I saw lots of suggestions including that it originated on playgrounds but I couldn't find anything more than that.

I did find out more on other traditions we have on Saint Patrick's Day.  So in no particular order, here goes.

1.  The Shamrock - is reputed to have been used by him to explain the holy trinity to the Irish.  There is no evidence Patrick ever said this.  It made its appearance in the 1700's as part of the traditions.  People wore shamrocks on their coats and finished the day by placing it in a glass of whiskey before drinking it.

2. Corned beef and cabbage turns out to be American, not Irish. It dates back to the  19th century,  when  poor Irish immigrants craved boiled bacon but they had to settle on corned beef because it was the most affordable meat.  In addition, cabbage was a cheap springtime vegetable so the two became THE meal traditionally associated with Ireland.

3. The color blue was the original color associated with the saint but that changed after Ireland adopted the color green due to being called the Emerald Isle.  The wearing of the green came about in the 19th century as a way of showing the solidarity of the Irish in America.

4.  Between 1903 and 1970, St. Patrick's day was considered a holy holiday so all pubs were closed in Ireland making it illegal to sell alcohol.  I know that Guinness is the beer of St. Patrick's day but I was unable to find out why.  So I assume it had to do with advertising.

5. The most interesting fact about St. Patrick's day as we know it, is that it started in American, not in Ireland.  The first celebration was organized in Boston by the Charitable Irish Society of Boston back in 1732.  It included a feast and a religious service.  The first parade in honor of St. Patrick was held in 1762 when a group of Irish soldiers marched down Broadway in New York City. By the mid 19th century, parades were common through out the US.  Celebrating St Patrick's day moved back to Ireland when it was discovered it could increase their spring tourism count.

6.  There are more people of Irish decent living in American than there are in Ireland, mostly due to the potato famine between 1840 and 1860.

7.  Chicago dyes its rivers green as a way of celebrating this well known holiday.  In addition, many bars serve green beer as their contribution to the day.

No matter how you celebrate it, enjoy yourselves and be safe.


  1. Hi Lee,
    Thanks for debunking some St. Patrick's Day myths. I really played the holiday up big this year on my blog with my new Blogger Collaboration group making bloggers' wishes come true and Saturday's Meet and Greet. I also wore green, but I do that every year.

    1. I wrote the column because I was curious about some of the traditions. Thank you for visiting and for your kind words.