Why Do We Pinch People and Wear Green on St. Patrick's Day?

Why Do We Pinch People and Wear Green on St. Patrick's Day?


We always know St. Patick's Day is close when we see an influx of green shoe orders come through our workshop!


This year is extra special with our limited edition Shamrock RunAmocs, courtesy of Elf Katie's wicked sewing and embroidery skills:


While most of the folks in our shop have plans to go out for corned beef, drink green beer and watch Irish dancers on March 17, there's one St. Paddy's tradition that has always confused me: pinching people who don't wear green. When someone recently asked why we do that, I was curious enough to do some research.

It turns out no one knows for certain how the pinching practice started, but there are a couple theories with supporting historical evidence. They're both summed up well by Luke Ahrean, owner of the Irish Cultural Museum in New Orleans.

The first theory, according to Ahearn: "On St. Patrick's Day, you're supposed to remember Ireland, and to wear green you're remembering Ireland. If you're not wearing green, you get pinched because shame on you."

Yeah, that's kind of weak. And kind of boring. The second theory, however, is a bit more intriguing and has been traced back to at least the 1700s in America:

"Apparently, leprechauns can't see green. Neither can fairy folk. They're very mischievous and do terrible things, so people pinch you to remind you that you'll get pinched by a leprechaun or fairy folk."

So wearing green makes you invisible to compulsively pinching mythical creatures. We like that answer much better.


[Watch Arhean's interview with WGNO-ABC here]


Ironically, green wasn't always the color associated with St. Patrick. It was originally blue! He often used shamrocks to teach people about the holy trinity, so they became a popular lapel adornment. Wearing shamrocks and living in a very green landscape—dubbed "The Emerald Isle" for a reason—definitely made the color popular, but it wasn't until 1798 when the United Irish Uprising used green uniforms to show Irish pride that green became the official color of the nation.

So there you have it. Now you can wow your friends at the pub on St. Patrick's Day. However you end up celebrating the holiday, we hope you have a safe and fun time!

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