Leprechauns, Potatoes, and Green stuff
Eh laddy’s, happy St. Patrick’s Day! A day of eating potatoes, wearing green, pinching, and for the crowd who’s 21 and older: beer. This holiday is a beloved one for Americans, but why? Our flag has no green, potatoes are just fries, and beards aren’t that common.
For a quick history lesson, Irish settlers who were servants brought the Irish tradition of celebrating St. Patrick’s feast day to America. According to history.com, the first recorded St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in New York City in 1762, not in Ireland. With the dramatic increase of Irish immigrants to the United States in the mid-19th century, the March 17th celebration became widespread. Today, across the United States, millions of Americans of Irish ancestry celebrate their cultural identity and history by enjoying St. Patrick’s Day parades and engaging in certain activities that seem strange.
One of the many weird parts of St. Patrick’s day is wearing green. Thanks to csmonitor.com’s thorough history lesson, it turns out blue was actually the first color associated with St. Patrick’s Day. The color most popular today, green, is one of the colors in Ireland’s flag, and it has been used in the flags of several Irish revolutionary groups throughout history.
Ireland is called the “Emerald Isle,” named for its lush green landscape. Green is also the color of spring, the shamrock, and the Chicago River; which the Midwestern city has dyed green on St. Patrick’s Day for the past 40-odd years. Yes, St. Patrick’s day is huge here.
A tradition I never cared for was pinching people on this day. Not only do pinches hurt, but they’re historically superstitious. Forgetting to wear green on St. Patty’s Day means you’re going to get pinched. It’s interestingly an entirely American tradition that probably started in the early 1700s.
St. Patrick’s celebrators thought wearing green made one invisible to leprechauns, who were fairy creatures. Leprechauns would pinch anyone they could see (aka 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.
The argument that is commonly brought up on the day of the Irish is just that: Irish-ness. Many people like to say the holiday is special to only certain people who have Irish blood in them. Oh come on, just because I’m not a typical Irish appearance doesn’t mean I’m not Irish; 3.75% of me is Irish to be exact. Or if I’m not Irish, who cares if I know why I’m celebrating the day.
No holiday should be dictated as only for a said group. Personally, if I do the research and know why I’m celebrating I can celebrate no matter who I am. For example, I know what Fourth of July celebrates so I can celebrate it, I’m not going to tell someone who doesn’t have American blood they can’t celebrate. Or Christmas, I know what the holiday stands for; I’m not just trying to spend money and get gifts.
To conclude, holidays are holidays. Whether you celebrate or not is up to you, not someone else’s opinion. I celebrate because it’s a family tradition to eat an Irish meal and to watch the parade, but I know more History on Ireland than I do many other places. Wear some green and pinch those shamrock-haters, it’s a day to have the luck of the Irish.
St. Patrick’s day is simply a day to be similar. Don’t let a silly Leprechaun fool you, we’re all a wee-bit Irish. Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all ye laddy’s!