The March calendar is often colored green, with shamrock and elf decorations. After German, Irish is the heritage most claimed by Americans. More Americans have Irish ancestors than there are people in Ireland, which might explain why St. Patrick's Day is such a popular holiday in the United States.
Irish immigrants to America brought some of their festivals and customs with them, including honoring St. Patrick, a British man who reportedly converted pagan Irish people to Christianity, after escaping slavery. In America, the holiday became not religious, but secular, centered around the color green and beer!
How old is the American celebration? Boston held its first St. Patrick's Day parade in 1737, before the American Revolution! St. Patrick's color traditionally was blue, but the leaf of the shamrock gave the holiday its green tint
Why do we get pinched if we don't wear green? Green was the color for Irish solidarity, and anyone not wearing it to honor St. Patrick could be slapped or pinched as a punishment. Other traditions say that wearing green makes a person invisible to the little Irish tricksters, the leprechauns, who might sneak up and pinch people at any given time.
What's the Luck of the Irish? In early America, Irish were not very lucky. Unlike immigrants from Great Britain or the Germanic countries, who were respected as smart hard-workers, Irish were unfairly said to be lazy and unintelligent. However, during the West Coast gold rush years, some of the most successful gold and silver mines were discovered by people of Irish descent. The phrase was not entirely complimentary, as it implied that it took luck, not intelligence, for an Irish person to find good fortune.
Why beer on St. Patrick's Day? St. Patrick's Day, on the Christian calendar, generally falls during the season of Lent, when fasting and sacrifice are encouraged. But the bans on meat and indulgent foods were lifted for the one day, which caused it to eventually be associated with a party spirit… and party spirits.
Whether you're Irish or not, St. Patrick's Day has become a popular American holiday, so put on something green, display a shamrock, or have a sip of beer to celebrate.
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