Saint Patrick, born to wealthy parents in Britain, was a missionary. He was born in the late fourth century and would later become the patron saint of Ireland. So if he’s a patron saint, why do we pinch each other in his name? Here are a few ideas about why this holiday is so widely celebrated in the USA.
Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated worldwide by the those of Irish descent and increasingly by non-Irish people (usually in New Zealand, Australia, and North America). Celebrations are generally themed around all things Irish and, by association, the colour green. -Wikipedia
St. Patrick’s Day is actually celebrated on the day Saint Patrick died. There are many legends associated with Saint Patrick. At 16 Patrick was taken prisoner by Irish raiders attacking his family’s estate in Britain. He spent 6 years in captivity and during that time became a shepherd. Perhaps the most famous is that he drove all the snakes from Ireland. This is of course not true.
So why do we pinch each other for not wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day? Here are a few ideas from wiki.answers.com:
You get pinched because you’re a nonconformist.
Pinching gives you a bruise so you can have some green on you.
The act of pinching on St. Patrick’s day began in America with Irish settlers who tried to get their kids to behave by telling them that fairies would come pinch them.
But the answer ACTUALLY is: Pinching those not wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day is an American tradition, having really nothing to do with Ireland or St. Patrick. It’s thought that the pinching started in the early 1700s, about the time that awareness of St. Patrick’s as a holiday came to the fore, too, in Boston, in the Massachusetts colony. They thought if you wore green, it made you invisible to the Leprechauns, which was good because they would pinch anyone they could see. So the pinching is to warn and remind you about the Leprechauns.
So go find someone who is not wearing green and give them a pinch and sing them this Irish Blessing Song
“May the road rise to meet you, and the wind be at your back, and the Lord hold you always in the hollow of his hand.”