Each and every year we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th and along with the celebrating of St. Patrick come traditions and customs of the holiday.
St. Patrick was known for converting and ministering Christianity to the people of Ireland. He was born in Britain and was kidnapped when his home was raided. St. Patrick was taken to Ireland and sold into slavery where he worked six long years herding sheep.
During his time of captivity, St. Patrick found religion. Upon a vision from god he escaped from his imprisonment and walked 200 miles to the coast where he then found passage back to Britain. In Britain he again received prophetic visions that he needed to return to Ireland and missionary to them. So, he spent fifteen years training to be a priest and then did exactly that.
Here are some of the traditions associated with St. Patrick’s Day.
Wearing green is a tradition largely created by the United States. In Ireland green is considered unlucky and is associated with the old green flag and a time when Ireland was not free.
Shamrocks are not to be confused with the four leaf clover. Shamrocks are the three leaved clover and it has been said that St. Patrick used the shamrock in his teachings to demonstrate the holy trinity. The shamrock was also considered a sacred plant in ancient Ireland because it symbolized the rebirth of spring.
Over the years, pinching classmates who aren’t wearing green has become a tradition among children. As far as my research can tell, this tradition has nothing to do with the Irish or history of St. Patrick’s Day and appears to be a tradition created by the United States. If anyone knows the history of pinching, please comment below.
Corned Beef and Cabbage
The most widely known meal associated with St. Patrick’s Day is corned beef and cabbage. Historically, the Irish did not use corned beef in this meal; they used Irish bacon. The Irish immigrants learned about corned beef, which was cheaper than the bacon, from their Jewish neighbors.
The Irish do not dye their beer green. As a matter of fact, until the 1970’s the drinking on St. Patrick’s Day was prohibited and the pubs were required to close. Also, as stated above, the color green is considered unlucky. The custom of green beer on St. Patrick’s Day is big in the United States. The city of Chicago even dyes the entire Chicago River green.
Banishing of the Snakes
Folklore recounts that St. Patrick stood atop a hill with a wooden staff and all the snakes were banished from the land. This is purely folklore and was really a metaphor for the banishing pagan beliefs and Ireland becoming entirely Christianized.