First of all – who is St. Patrick? St. Patrick was kidnapped at 16 and brought to Ireland as an enslaved person, and eventually became the patron saint of Ireland and brought Christianity over.
St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated every year on March 17; it marks his death anniversary and a religious holiday for over 1,000 years. Irish families would attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. It’s one of the days where they would feast on meat, specifically Irish bacon, and drink and dance.
Today, most people have no idea of its religious significance and only associate it with beers and bars – a drinking holiday. But St. Patrick’s Day is also a celebration filled with symbolism and a lot to do with good luck.
Here are some traditions you can participate in to get luck on your side:
Finding a four-leaf clover
Holding a four-leaf clover by belchonock, 123RF.
We all grew up hearing that four-leaf clovers are great good luck charms. Legend has it that Eve plucked a single four-leafed clover as a souvenir when Adam and Eve were leaving the Garden of Eden. Anyone who finds a four-leaf clover will have unlimited luck on their side, precisely because of how rare it is to find one.
It’s estimated that the probability of one finding a four-leaf clover is 1 in 10,000. So it’s difficult, but not impossible. Go get searching!
Drowning the shamrock
Beer with shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day by dolgachov, 123RF.
Behold Ireland’s favorite plant – the shamrock, aka little clover. The native clover was St. Patrick’s go-to method to preach the Holy Trinity. Each leaf represents the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. On the day of St. Patrick’s, we can find the symbolism of shamrocks everywhere in Ireland.
But what does it mean to “drown” the shamrock? It’s a tradition where at the end of St. Patrick’s Day, a shamrock is dunked into the last glass of whiskey then drunk during a toast to the saint. Then, the shamrock is tossed over the left shoulder for the ultimate good luck charm. Go to your closest Irish bar, drown the shamrock and say Sláinte, which is ‘health’ in Irish and Scottish Gaelic.
Decked out in green
People wearing green-themed clothing to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in a bar by vadimgozhda, 123RF.
The color most associated with St. Patrick’s Day is the color green. Green beer, green milkshakes, green hair, green everything. It is the only time of the year when you can dress in green from head to toe, and no one would bat an eye. This popular tradition began when many thought that the green would make them invisible to leprechauns, and these trickster fairies would pinch those who did not wear green.
Surprisingly, the national color of Ireland is blue. But over time, the color was popularized through St. Patrick’s use of the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity and represented the Catholics of Ireland.
Hanging up a horseshoe
Horseshoe on four-leaf clovers by pasiphae, 123RF.
Begone goblins and evil spirits! According to Irish folklore, the horseshoe is a lucky charm strong enough to fight the Devil. In the 10th century, the Devil paid a visit to Saint Dunstan. The visitation ended with Dunstan nailing a horseshoe to the Devil’s foot, where he only agreed to remove it on the condition that the Devil can never enter any household with a horseshoe on the door.
There’s no right way to hang a horseshoe, but there are two popular ways to do so. Either point the ends up to make it easier to collect good luck or point the ends down so that the good luck slides and pours onto your head.
Kissing an Irish person
Two women hold up St. Patrick’s Day props by manuta, 123RF.
You might’ve heard the phrase “Kiss me, I’m Irish.” Let us explain.
It first started from kissing the Blarney Stone, a tradition that’s been around for centuries.
This lucky stone sits on the wall of Blarney Castle in Ireland, and it is said that any set of lips that touches the stone would be given the gift of eloquence and persuasive speech.
Even Winston Churchill has kissed the stone. But not everyone can set off to kiss the Blarney Stone, so kissing an Irish person is the next best thing for luck.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
As with many festivals and celebrations, the origins and traditions slowly evolve and take up a whole other meaning. While St. Patrick’s Day is mainly celebrated as a drinking holiday today, there’s so much more to it.
Take some of these Irish culture and its lucky activities to inject some extra fun for your celebration of St. Patrick’s Day!
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