You may have heard about that one important condition to celebrating St. Patrick’s Day: You must wear the color green or else you will get pinched.
It is very common for people, especially those who identify with their Irish heritage, to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day. There can be several reasons for this. Ireland is often referred to as the “Emerald Isle”. The nation’s flag sports a bright green hue. The holiday’s patron saint, Saint Patrick, is associated with the green three-leaf plant, the shamrock.
To a person of the Irish heritage, wearing green also symbolizes support for a movement from the late 18th century called Irish Republicanism. This movement aimed to make Ireland an independent republic. The tradition to wear green in support of the nation of Ireland carried over into the traditions tied to St. Patrick’s Day by Irish immigrants in America in the 19th century.
So where did this “pinching” business come from?
According to the old folklore, it is important to wear green so that you become invisible to leprechauns, fairy creatures who will pinch you if they spot you. Getting pinched by a friend or family member on St. Patrick’s Day is supposed to serve as a reminder to throw on something green before those mischievous leprechauns come.
(By writing this article, we do not condone pinching in light of this tradition or for any other reason. We do, however, encourage the painless ways one can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.)