MUNDANE MYSTERIES: Why Do We Pinch Non-Green-Wearers On St. Patrick’s Day?

You probably hear it all day the day before & likely see it happen on the day, itself: if you don’t wear green on St. Patrick’s day, you get pinched by your friends & family. But, have you ever actually questioned the whole St. Patrick’s Day pinching rule? Is it an ancient cultural practice passed down through generations? Or, was it just some stupid game an older brother invented to beat up on his younger siblings?

As folklore would have it, you actually get pinched on St. Patrick’s day for not wearing green because green makes you invisible to leprechauns, and leprechauns like to pinch people. Why do leprechauns like to pinch people? Because they can, that’s why! (I couldn’t track down any primary Irish source to certify this claim, however, so take it with a grain of salt.)

Apart from the superstitious aspect, why would we need to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day? Well, wearing green actually symbolizes Irish Republicanism, which was a nonsectarian movement from the late 18th century that campaigned for Ireland to become an independent republic. The reason green became so deeply entwined with St. Patrick’s Day came a little bit later, in the 19th century, when Irish immigrants started landing in America & celebrating St. Patrick’s Day by wearing the symbolic color reflecting their heritage.

So, hopefully you’ve worn your finest green t-shirt or dress this St. Patty’s day. Because, while we don’t condone pinching those who don’t wear green, everyone’s entitled to celebrate as they must. So, better to be safe than sorry!

Got a Mundane Mystery you’d like solved? Send me a message via social media (@AndyWebbRadioVoice), or shoot me an email at andy@wfre.com.

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