It’s all about St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day observes the death of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. The holiday has evolved into an Americanized celebration of an Irish Holiday with parades, special foods, music, dancing, and a whole lot of green.

Celebrated on March 17th, these traditions have a past that is not talked about. 

While thinking about St. Patrick’s day, one may wonder, why wear green? Why celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? What’s with the clovers and leprechauns? 

Before getting to the traditions celebrated on this holiday, it’s important to understand the components of this holiday. 

Why wear green? 

According to Reader’s Digest, originally the Irish wore blue on St. Patrick’s Day, but when Ireland changed its national symbol to a Shamrock in the 18th century, the national flower of Ireland, green became the new blue. 

There are a handful of different reasons why we wear green on St. Patrick’s Day; due to Ireland’s lush green landscape, they have obtained the Emerald Isle as their nickname. 

There are also political ties. The green in the Irish flag represents Irish nationalism, something important to Ireland due to when Ireland broke free from the United Kingdom in 1921. 

As you wear your green clothes, remember why green is such a powerful color — not only will it save you from getting pinched by a weird stranger, but it’ll serve as a reminder of the rich history of Ireland.

Why clovers/shamrocks? 

Shamrocks, also known as clovers, represent the Holy Trinity in Ireland. According to Oaklee’s Family Guide, the three leaves on the shamrock represent the father, son, and the holy spirit. These shamrocks were used to educate people on the Holy Trinity. To represent the shamrock, one will wear green. 

Why leprechauns? 

When someone mentions leprechauns, people usually think of a little man who guards gold at the end of a rainbow.

The leprechaun is a supernatural being in Irish folklore. Depicted as a trickster, leprechauns are almost always associated with riches and gold.

According to Live Science, in Irish legends, if one is lucky enough to find and capture a leprechaun, one would have to trade his freedom for his gold. Since leprechauns are tricksters, that is not always easy. 

If you are not wearing green on the holiday, it is said that a leprechaun will find you, and pinch you. So when the holiday rolls around, wear green!

Chicago River

Chicago has its very own special tradition: dyeing the Chicago river green.

They do this by putting 40 pounds of green dye into the river, spread out by two to three motorboats. 

How did this tradition start? According to Enjoy Illinois, in 1961, business manager from the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Local Union noticed one of the plumbers had green stains over his overalls, matching the Emerald green that is associated with Ireland. The next year, the Local Union decided to use 100 pounds of dye in the river to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and it stayed green for over a week. The tradition continues every year. 

This year, the river will be dyed on Saturday, March 12th. 

Corn Beef Hash

Hanna Dove (12) has a St. Patrick’s Day tradition that she and her family follow every year. 

“My family always makes corn beef hash, and some years we’ve made it with Guinness beer, to help enhance flavor,” says Dove. “And of course, wear as much green as possible.”

Shamrock Shakes

Mr. Wolf, a science teacher, also has special traditions that he and his family with two kids follow.

“My tradition is that I go to McDonalds and get a Shamrock Shake with my kids,” he said.

Something else that sparks everyone’s interest around St. Patrick’s Day, even if you are not Irish or celebrate the holiday, is the Shamrock Shake. 

The Shamrock Shake is a seasonal green mint flavored milkshake. These are sold in the US, Canada and even Ireland.  

Wolf shared another tradition he has with his family.

“Something that my wife does is the leprechauns come to the house in the middle of the night and mess up all the furniture and dishes and make a big mess and play tricks on my kids,” he said. “They will turn their chairs upside down, but they also bring them gifts.”