Irish Traditions

By Madeline Crowley

As March 17 drew closer each year, kids all around me became nothing but excited for the day when sneaky little leprechauns would visit their houses just to turn their toilet water green and leave them with the exciting thoughts that maybe their leprechaun trap worked this year. For me, on the other hand, Saint Patrick’s day meant the dreaded corned beef and cabbage. Out of the many cultural traditions for this Irish holiday, eating the sour and soggy cabbage with the yucky smelling meat and potatoes was ranked at the bottom of my list. Over time, the taste has grown on me and I’ve become quite fond of it by now, but I can still remember my family telling me to take a bite and “if you don’t, a year of bad luck is coming your way.”  I still laugh at this tradition because I can’t wrap my head around the fact that eating something like this could actually give you good luck. Saint Patrick’s day is celebrated worldwide in so many different ways. Parties with large consumption of Guinness – an Irish beer–  are thrown, parades full of Irish culture are held, school children pinch each other when someone isn’t wearing green, and in Chicago they certainly have one of the strangest celebrations. On March 17 every year, they dump 100 pounds of environmentally friendly dye into the Chicago river to dye the river bright, limey green! They originally did this 60 years ago to help solve a city wide plumbing problem, but then the Irish in Chicago petitioned to bring it back for decoration every year. Not far from Chicago, in New York City, they hold an annual Saint Patrick’s day parade as well! The reason lots of people wear green for Saint Patrick’s day is because in Irish culture it is associated with good luck, however if you see anyone in blue, you may have found a true Irishman (or just another person who forgot it was Saint Patrick’s day). Nevertheless, blue was the first color associated with Saint Patrick in Ireland and it used to be worn by all of the Natives. People often wear or put up lots of four leaf clover decorations as  a sign for good luck. The true Irish meaning behind the clover, however, is deeper than just luck. The more common three leafed clover itself was often worn in a time of oppression for the Irish when they were not allowed to practice their religion. The three leaves represented the holy trinity and if they were to see another person wearing it pinned to their chest it was a symbol of their faith, culture, and pride in the Irish. In the end, Saint Patrick’s day no matter how you celebrate it should be celebrated in recognition of the amazing Irish in your community!