Tag Archives: st. patrick’s day

Dyeing the Chicago River Green

My informant grew up in Chicago, IL and he says that every year on St. Patrick’s Day, they dye the Chicago River green. He explained that every year, he would be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with his family and “one second it’s blue, or grey…it’s nasty, and then 30 minutes later, it’s green.”

For 43 years now, a private company has been “dyeing” the Chicago river green. Supposedly, the tradition got started in 1961 when Stephen Bailey saw a plumber with a splendid emerald green color all over his white coveralls. Bailey asked the plumber how his coveralls got that color and he explained that the dye they used to detect leaks turned the water green. So, Bailey saw this as a start of a tradition and from then on without fail they turn the Chicago river an bright emerald green on St. Patrick’s Day.

St. Patrick’s Day has always been an interesting holiday to me. It falls right around my birthday and I never liked getting pinched when elementary school boys were not able to tell the difference between blue and green.  The holiday derived in Ireland as commemoration of Saint Ireland who was associated with the start of Christianity in Ireland. Supposedly, Saint Patrick was originally associated with the color blue, but then later was set to green. There we have the addition of leprechauns, shamrocks and pots o’ gold. The holiday in Ireland set a day for church services, parades, and lifted the “Lenten restrictions” on eating and drinking alcohol. Holidays now have become less focused on its origins and more on the feasting and jovial activities.

Here is a video link: Dyeing the Chicago River

Source URLs: http://greenchicagoriver.com/story.html, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patrick’s_Day

Family Tradition

“Every St. Patrick’s Day, we have corned beef and cabbage. It’s been a tradition in my family for years, and I plan carrying that tradition on into the future.  We roast the meat with potatoes and carrots and then add the cabbage. It’s also served with mustard.  You begin roasting the meat in the morning, and it’s usually done in the afternoon when our entire family gathers to eat it. Additionally, the “leprechauns” come during the day sometime to mess up a room in the house.  As a kid, my parents and aunts and uncles used to do it for all of us children, but now that I’m older, we do it for the kids.  It basically represents the leprechauns trying to find a pot of gold amongst our stuff, and after they “find” it, they leave a trail of money or gold coins as they escape. Once it’s all done, the kids of course have to clean up the mess, but get to keep their ‘gold.’”

Summer told me that she doesn’t know exactly how the tradition started, since her family is Swedish, not Irish. I think it probably just started as a tradition for the kids, which Summer said. It was supposed to be a fun event for the kids, so that they could go on a hunt to find gold coins or whatever treasure that is left for them. The tradition is probably also a way for their family to get together and enjoy each other’s company. The tradition of corned beef and cabbage was probably included because it is the traditional meal that many people prepare for St. Patrick’s Day, because it might have just been a more “authentic” meal to mark the occasion.