Take out your green! St. Patrick’s Day, which falls on March 17 each year, is filled with parades, amulets and all things green. The event was originally a religious holiday, but over time it became a celebration of Irish culture.
Celebrate St. Patrick
St. Patrick may be the patron saint of Ireland, but he didn’t always live in Ireland. Patrick was born in England in the 4th century and did not come to Ireland until he was 16, when he was sent to Ireland for work.
When Patrick arrived, he became interested in Christianity and began teaching it to others. He is said to have converted the inhabitants of many countries to Christians, and St. Patrick’s Day is now celebrated on the day that Patrick is said to have died.
St. Patrick was a real person, but some of the traditions associated with him and the holiday are actually myths. For example, you often see four-leaf clovers on St. Patrick’s Day. However, according to legend, Patrick used shamrock, or clover, as part of his teachings.Although it is possible for a clover to grow a fourth leaf, the four-leaf clover is only considered a sign of good luck.
Another legend says that Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland. This question? These creatures never actually lived in the country. In fact, many of the animals found in Europe and North America do not live on the island of Ireland — the ocean keeps these animals away.
The fact that Ireland is an island, and is tree-lined with grassy hillsides, means that the country is sometimes called the Emerald Isle. But the color that people first associated with St. Patrick was blue! (Some old Irish flags even have the color.) Green was eventually introduced to St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the 18th century, when the shamrock (green, of course) became the national symbol. Due to the popularity of the shamrock and the Irish landscape, the color continues into this festival.
Green is also the color that fairy goblins like to wear, at least today. But the legend of leprechauns dates back before green became popular: fairies were first described as wearing red.
Every year, officials turn the Chicago River green in honor of St. Patrick’s Day and the many Irish immigrants who helped settle the city.
Elves are actually one of the reasons you should wear green on St. Patrick’s Day, or risk getting pinched! This tradition has to do with folklore that wearing green keeps you from being seen by leprechauns, who like to pinch anyone they can see. Some also believe that wearing the color brings good luck, while others wear it to honor their Irish heritage. No wonder you see green decorations everywhere — the Chicago River in Illinois is even dyed green every year to celebrate the holiday.
Corned beef and cabbage is a traditional Irish American dish.
Another tradition is that Irish-Americans in the United States eat corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day. Crowds also gathered to watch traditional Irish dancers and musicians parade through the city streets. Whatever you’re celebrating, I hope it’s a lucky day! I’ve got myself a green T-shirt too.