What’s the Scoop on St. Patrick’s Day?

Think you know a lot about St. Patrick’s Day? Or, are you left in the dark about why you need to wear green? Many Americans celebrate this holiday by enjoying traditional Irish dishes and stouts, citywide parades and other festivities, without ever understanding its origins, or why some of the most time-honored traditions are associated with March 17. So if you’d like to head to work armed with knowledge this year, along with that pinch-proof green shirt or accessory, here are the basics behind this beloved holiday!

Why Corned Beef and Cabbage?

The dish most often featured on St. Patrick’s Day menus, corned beef and cabbage, was not actually a staple for Irish families living in Ireland. It became a customary dish when Irish-American immigrants wanted to celebrate the holiday with traditional flavors, but on a tight budget.

Since beef brisket was cheaper than bacon (a more traditional Irish ingredient), and cabbage was the most affordable vegetable at the time, the tradition of making corned beef and cabbage was born.

What’s the Deal with Shamrocks?

Legend indicates that St. Patrick, himself, utilized shamrocks to help illustrate the Catholic doctrine of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as three parts of the same God, when ministering to families in Ireland.

Over time, the three-leafed clover has become a national emblem for Ireland, as well as a symbol for good luck, all around the world.

Why Is Green Big for St. Patrick’s Day?

Blue was actually the original color connected to St. Patrick. So when did green enter the picture, much less become required attire, lest you be pinched by loved ones and strangers alike?

Because Ireland is famed for the Emerald Isle, green became a dominant color for the nation’s flag. And as St. Patrick’s Day gained worldwide traction, green became associated with the celebration, and also as a way to show support to the Irish-American community.

Some believe the tradition of pinching those not wearing green has to do with folklore surrounding mischievous leprechauns that liked to pinch people not wearing green. But others believe the tradition of pinching began in Ireland, with children who would pinch those not wearing green, since it was a color that represented good luck!

How Did Parades Enter the Picture?

St. Patrick’s Day parades now occur all over the world, and many assume the tradition began in Ireland. But actually, the first St. Patrick’s Day parade occurred in New York in 1762.

That tradition continues in New York, and like the first parade, it continues to be filled with people marching, rather than parades or vehicles like so many other famous parades in the city. Similar parades are also now held across the globe, including in Ireland!

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