Who was St. Patrick? Why is everyone wearing green? Why are people threatening to pinch me?
And what can I do to turn some of these wacky traditions into a fun end to a busy workweek?
If you’ve ever asked yourself any of these questions as St. Patrick’s Day rolls around each year, The Knowledge Nook has got the answers. We've also got some info on great ideas for celebrating this holiday at work!
The Patron Saint of Ireland
St. Patrick, the man who inspired a city (Chicago) to dump 45 pounds of green vegetable dye into the Chicago River every March is best known as the Patron Saint of Ireland. Unfortunately, History.com reports that many of the famous acts attributed to him, such as the banishing of snakes from Ireland, “are false, the products of hundreds of years of exaggerated storytelling.”
St. Patrick was born in Britain and was believed to have died in Ireland on March 17, around the year 460 A.D. As a young man, he was captured and imprisoned by Irish raiders who attacked his family and took him to Ireland. He “turned to his religion for solace” during his six years in captivity, according to the History.com article.
He eventually escaped his captors and fled to Britain, but felt a strong calling to return. He became a priest and felt called to work in Ireland, where he served the church for many years.
What's With All The Green?
What is the reasoning behind wearing green on this holiday? According to the Reader’s Digest, over the centuries from the holiday’s inception in Ireland to its spread to the U.S., Ireland’s nickname, “The Emerald Isle,” coupled with the “green stripe in the Irish flag,” became reasons for the color green to be closely associated with this holiday.
Why is Everyone Pinching Me?
What about that most curious of traditions, that of pinching anyone who isn’t wearing green? According to Reader’s Digest, it came from the stories of “mysterious leprechauns who would pinch anyone not wearing their favorite color.”
Bring A Little Celebration to Work
To be sure, St. Patrick’s Day is a beloved holiday. To bring a little of the celebration to the workplace, here are a few ideas from chron.com out of Houston.
Hold an Irish Potluck. It’s easy to put together a potluck at the office. It might not be so easy to convince your co-workers to bring Irish stew, Irish soda bread, Colcannon and champ, or corned beef and cabbage, but it’s worth a try. Other fun food-related suggestions include decorating cupcakes or other treats with four-leaf clovers or green icing.
Pipe in some Irish Music. Radio stations sometimes host holiday-themed streams of music that your office may be able to tune into. Another idea is to purchase traditional music on iTunes (or old school CDs) and listen to Irish bands such as U2 and the Pogues.
Don’t Forget to Wear Green. The simplest idea of all is to encourage all staff to wear green. Since St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday this year, many organizations may already have “casual Friday” dress codes in place. Lighten the mood by encouraging green shirts, pins, hats or other fun accessories. As an extra employee perk, award a fun prize like “Best Dressed Irishman and Irishwoman,” or some other lighthearted title, and give away a night at the movies or a gift card to a fun restaurant to the lucky winners.
Special days throughout the year are a great way to boost employee morale and promote strong teams. What are some special holiday events your office hosts throughout the year?