Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pinching, Leprechaun Traps, and Reuben Sandwiches--My Convoluted St. Paddy's Day Traditions

Top of the mornin' to ya! Today is St. Patrick's Day. I'm a fan of holidays, as anyone who knows me will attest to. At one point in my career (before the stress of state testing), I had started to develop a comprehensive curriculum based solely on holidays. Not just the big ones like Christmas and Halloween, but the other ones that most are not aware of. (Did you know that October 15 is National Grouch Day?) But since I've moved to Mississippi and the evolution of high stakes state testing, my celebrations of all things holiday related has sadly been diminished. On an interesting side note....since I've moved to Mississippi, I've not celebrated St. Patrick's Day at school. It has fallen during our spring vacation each year. It seems that when I lived in Florida, our spring break was around Easter. Oh well, to each his own......
Which brings me to today's post. My family does the normal St. Patrick's Day stuff: we wear green and eat a special St. Patrick's dinner at my mom's consisting of corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes and carrots. I'm not a huge fan of any of those items together, so Mom is making Reuben sandwiches, which I love. Interestingly, I don't like sauerkraut or corn beef, but put them on a sandwich and I'm in.
So....checking facebook this morning, I saw that a friend posted the question, "Does anyone know why we pinch people who aren't wearing green on St. Patrick's Day?" Thanks to the Internet, I have an idea. (What did we do before the Internet?) According to several sites, the pinching may have started in the 1700's in the Massachusetts colony as a reminder that people that wore green were invisible to leprechauns (who pinch by the way). That "tradition" has filtered down and turned into the current day "Get pinched if you don't wear green" tradition that is carried out by elementary aged students. As a teacher, that's one holiday tradition that you don't look forward to. I teach fourth grade, which is just old enough for them to know EXACTLY what they are doing. So I'd always be prepared by cutting out some construction paper shamrocks in advance for those that forgot to wear green.
But this makes me think of the St. Patrick's Day holidays of my youth. I can remember picking out my most green shirt in anticipation of St. Patrick's Day so I wouldn't get pinched. Then, as a middle schooler, I purposely DIDN'T wear green so I WOULD get pinched. Apparently I don't put out the "Hey, check me out vibe" because no one pinched me. Which was probably a good thing since I'm not sure what I would have done if I had gotten pinched. My experiences with boys was sadly lacking.
I also saw during my Internet search that people in Ireland think that Americans are nuts for the way they celebrate St. Patrick's Day. It seems that they don't celebrate the holiday nearly as much as we do. As best I can tell, the highlight of most adults on this holiday is an excuse to drink beer. For kids, it's fun to talk about leprechauns and lucky four leaf clovers. Back in the day, I had my students construct leprechaun traps using what we had learned about them in class. In case you weren't aware, leprechauns are related to fairies and most are pretty grumpy. They are very greedy, always looking for more gold and fiercely protecting their own pot of gold. Legend says that if you catch a leprechaun, you must keep your eye on him or he will escape. It was neat seeing students incorporate an eye into their traps. Of course, during special class when they were out of the room, I'd sprinkle gold glitter around their traps that we had set outside. They loved it. And no one pinched each other.
In observation of St. Patrick's Day today, I'll wear a green shirt and some shorts (the high today is supposed to be 74-yuck) and if I'm feeling festive...I'll don my green glitter eyeliner. I'm not sure I'll venture into town today but either way, I'll be festive.....and no one will pinch me


Brandi Herrington said...

I love your blog postings!!

Anonymous said...

Tass, just throw in a question such as
Read the following passage.
"The Leprechaun was trapped at 2:15. When Johann came back into the room at 3:12, there was gold dust around the trap."
What can the reader infer happened to the Leprechaun?
That validates the entire project, because the critical thinking and problem solving part is useless in MS.
Miss you. Fremin