Irish Enlightenment: St. Patty's Day Traditions

sham, rock this monday.

sham, rock this monday.

Erin go bragh! Have no idea what that actually means? Me either. I just know it’s the traditional St. Patrick’s Day chant/slogan. But I decided to do a little investigating St. Patrick’s Day traditions (sorry the Shamrock Shake at McDonald’s doesn’t count) and found out that Erin go bragh loosely translates as “Ireland Forever.” Well that clears that up. But what about all of the other things we do to celebrate a day when public drunkenness and pinching strangers is encouraged? Here are a few of the answers I found.

Shamrocks– Why do we look for these pesky shamrocks outside of a box of Lucky Charms? Apparently shamrocks were thought to symbolize the rebirth of spring and became a national Irish symbol of pride.

Wearing Green– Believe it or not, blue was the first color associated with St. Patrick’s Day. As folklore has it , green crept its way for a few reasons. Ireland was nicknamed “The Emerald Isle,” the above mentioned shamrocks, and the fact that the Irish flag has gone some green on it. Green officially became the unofficial color of St. Patrick’s Day around the 1700s but it’s Americans who perpetuate the tradition more than the Irish.

Corned Beef– Eating Corned Beef on St. Patrick’s Day is actually an American tradition, not an Irish one. Corned Beef was never a traditional Irish food. But when the Irish immigrated to America (specifically New York City), their Jewish neighbors introduced them to this delicacy, which was cheaper than pork.

Now when you’re in the middle of your St. Patty’s day stupor, you can explain to your friends why they’re doing the things they do to celebrate. Please note, drinking green beer is never encouraged- luck of the Irish or not.

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