To my Irish friends, “Happy St. Paddy’s Day!”
My home town had very few Irish people in it. Actually, I only know one girl and her cousins who actually announced they were Irish. Their fathers were brothers and instilled in them pride of being half Irish.
It seemed to me that the majority of kids were descendants of Germans in our school, although those were the days of unhyphenated Americans in the 1950s. We didn’t question our ethnic heritage. We never paid much attention in school to any of the holidays in those days other than Christmas and Easter let alone St. Patrick’s Day. We never bothered to wear green and we certainly never pinched anyone in my memory.
I decided that today I would research why people get pinched if they don’t wear green. I found several explanations offered by several people on various sites:
After the English invasion of Ireland, wearing green could get you killed as surely as wearing red, white and blue in Iraq could today.
The Irish, Catholics and Protestants alike, fought under a green banner against the “Orangemen” occupying their land. Green became a symbol of the proud Irish rebel and shamrocks a political statement of Irish nationalism against English occupants who outlawed their language, education and faith.
St. Patrick’s Day is a celebration of the survival of a race that faced genocide from famine and oppression and overcame religious persecution, economic oppression and exploitation here and abroad. The Irish came to the United States seeking freedom, but instead were greeted with racism, forced to celebrate Mass in secret and compete for positions in slavery.When the Irish immigrated to the U.S. because of the potato famine, most Irish were thought to be no good drunkards and they were pretty much not excepted and ridiculed. When St. Patrick’s Day would arrive, few wore green because of this and few didn’t so they pinched those who didn’t wear green for lack of pride and it was passed down.
This seems to be something started by school children and does not appear to have any ancient beginnings.
However, as a child, it was my understanding that Leprechauns were the ones who started the pinching tradition. Leprechauns in ancient Ireland were not the cute little fellows you see on cards and banners today. They were viewed as bad–tempered spirits capable of great mischief. They became associated with St. Pat’s Day only because they are 1) of Irish origin and 2) they look cute on cards and other decorations.
Pinching those not wearing green has nothing to do with St. Patrick’s Day. It is an American tradition. It is thought that the pinching started in the early 1700s, about the time that the awareness of St. Patrick’s came to the fore in Boston, in the Massachusetts colony. they thought if you wore green, you became invisible to the Leprechaun, which was good because they would pinch anyone they could see. so the pinching is to warn and remind you about the Leprechauns.
One of the biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the entire south, if not the US. takes place in Dallas. Their claim is that the longest parade is down Greenville Ave. More than 1400 participants were expected to join in the parade. They don’t hold the festivities on St. Patrick’s Day but on the weekend closest to the 17th. This year the parade was held on the 13th. The parade in Dallas has been going on for 31 years. The day was also a good day for a run. I don’t know how many people were actually pinched.
The first time I ever encountered kids being pinched was here in Texas once I started teaching down here. No one tried to pinch me as the teacher but I certainly put an end to the pinching as soon as I witnessed it. Of course the kids that I was teaching (subbing actually) took every opportunity they could to wreck physical discomfort upon their fellow classmates any reason they could.
I plan to wear my uniform Wednesday morning to my volunteer job. Then I plan to come home and stay home. I don’t have anything green to wear. I’ll just let the others have fun pinching. On the other hand, I think I’ll print out a clover, cut it out, and wear it on my uniform…just in case there are some Leprechaun hiding here in Ft. Worth. Namaste. Attic Annie