St. Patrick’s Day pinch rules: Made up or cultural relic? We dive into why you get pinched on March 17th, as well as why you're even supposed to wear green in the first place.

By Liz Steelman
March 16, 2018

As long as you can remember, if you weren’t wearing green on St. Patrick’s day, your punishment was uncomfortable, borderline painful pinches from your friends and family members until the clock struck midnight. Though it might feel like that’s just how life is on March 17, have you ever actually questioned the St. Patrick’s Day pinch rule? Is this an ancient cultural practice passed down from generation to generation, or was this just a silly game some older brother invented to gang up on his younger siblings?

According to folklore, you get pinched on St. Patrick’s day for not wearing green because green makes you invisible to leprechauns, and leprechauns like to pinch people (because they can!) However, we could find no primary Irish source to certify that claim, so take it with a grain of salt.

Apart from the superstitious aspect, you might also be wondering, “Why do we wear green on St. Patrick’s Day, anyways?” Well, according to Paul Finnegan, the Executive Director of the New York Irish Center, wearing green actually symbolizes Irish Republicanism, a nonsectarian movement from the late 18th century that campaigned for Ireland to become an independent republic. 

The reason green has so deeply become entwined with St. Patrick’s Day came a little bit later, says Time. In the 19th century, Irish immigrants started landing in America and celebrating St. Patrick’s Day and their heritage by wearing this symbolic color.

So go ahead and wear your finest green dress or tee this St. Paddy’s day and share these fun facts you’ve learned about the history behind it! (Note: We don’t condone pinching those who choose not to wear green, but celebrate as you must!)