It’s not easy being green

The history of St. Patrick’s Day


Sarah Pflug from Burst

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Have you ever wondered why you pinch someone on St. Patrick’s Day?

The holiday is celebrated worldwide but few people know the origins of the day, the traditions that surround it, and how it came to be. For over a thousand years, Irish people have celebrated St. Patrick’s Day as a religious holiday. It all started with a man named St. Patrick in the fifteenth century who was kidnapped and then brought to Ireland as a slave at the age of sixteen. After he escaped, he returned to Ireland, and is credited with bringing Christianity to the people there. St. Patrick’s Day is now celebrated annually on March 17th to commemorate him. 

Although the holiday emerged from Ireland, it is celebrated inside and outside the country. Here in America, St. Patrick’s Day is the third most popular drinking day behind New Year’s Eve, Christmas, and the Fourth of July. 50 pounds of green dye are dumped into the Chicago river every year to celebrate, and a St. Patrick’s Day Parade is held in New York City. There are many other large celebrations across the country, and yet despite all its popularity, St. Patrick’s Day is not a federal holiday in the United States. Schools, businesses, and organizations are open as usual on March 17th. 

One of the most iconic symbols of St. Patrick’s day is the leprechaun. Leprechauns– also known as “lobaircin,” meaning “small-bodied fellow”– have their own holiday on May 13th, but they are also celebrated on St. Patrick’s Day. Wearing green on this holiday has become a tradition because it was believed that wearing green made people invisible to leprechauns, who would pinch anyone they could see.   

Hopefully you remembered to wear green this St. Patrick’s Day!