St. Patrick’s Day is Not Just for the Irish

On March 17, 2017, we will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. So, I thought I would write a blog about the holiday and share some trivia and history about it, too.

The holiday began as a religious feast day for the patron saint of Ireland and today is celebrated by not only the Irish but everyone else too. Today, it is an international event where people celebrate Irish culture with parades, dancing, and food.

In school, we had to wear green or fear being pinched. Why? You’re supposed to wear green to remember and honor Ireland. If you’re not wearing green, you get pinched as a way to say shame on you. Also, It’s an American tradition that dates back to the 1700’s. Apparently, leprechauns can’t be seen and cannot see you if you are wearing green. They’re mischievous, so people pinch you to remind you that if you’re not wearing green, you’ll get pinched by a leprechaun.

Why do we wear green? Some say blue was the first color associated with St. Patrick’s Day, but that started to change in the 17th century. Green is one of the colors in Ireland’s tri-color flag, and it has been used in the flags of several Irish revolutionary groups throughout history. Ireland is the “Emerald Isle,” named for its lush green landscape, is also the color of spring, and the shamrock.

In Chicago, they die the river green. Everywhere, there is a lot of drinking going on, especially beer dyed green. The Chicago River is dyed green the Saturday before each St. Patrick’s Day. The river is dyed green between Wabash Avenue and Columbus Drive.

Mayor Richard J. Daley is credited not only with reviving Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, but also proposing the idea of greening part of Lake Michigan to celebrate the holiday. It was his boyhood friend and Chicago Plumbers Union business manager Stephen M. Bailey who suggested dyeing the Chicago River instead. The Chicago River would run green for the first time in 1962.

Enjoy St. Patrick’s Day and, as always, don’t drink (green beer or other alcoholic beverages) and drive. And watch out for anyone who may have celebrated a bit too much. Practice defensive driving. For more information on St. Patrick’s Day, check it out on history.com