Linda Sarhan has been a freelance writer and researcher for 20+ years and has a B.A. in English and creative writing.
Irish culture is rich in traditions, folklore, and superstitions. Whether any of the superstitions have validity has yet to be scientifically proved. Some may be of chance, but most often it is the belief one puts to the superstition that truly tells whether it is true or not.
Irish superstitions are plenty. In fact, people have written books devoted specifically to Irish superstitions. Some superstitions are more popular than others. Some date back centuries, others are fairly recent.
The Color Green
It is said that the color green represents good luck. If you wear green or consume green food or drink on St. Patrick's Day, you shall be very lucky. However, in other parts of Europe, it is said that by wearing green you are susceptible to the influence of fairies, particularly evil fairies.
It is said that if you happen to catch one, he will offer you a pot of gold for his release. However, they are tricky little buggers and aren't to be trusted. In fact, it is warned that their music is very bewitching and they love playing tricks on people.
It is said that if you find a four-leaf clover you will have good luck with anything regarding money. It is also said that it will protect you from witchcraft. However, you cannot tell anyone that you have it in your possession. For some people, each leaf on the clover symbolizes something: respect, wealth, love, and health. Finding one on St. Patrick's Day doubles the power of the four leaf clover. From a religious aspect, some people believe that a three-leaf clover represents the Father, the son, and the holy spirit. If you find a four-leaf clover then the fourth-leaf symbolizes man and that this is a sign that the Trinity is with you.
If you are fortunate to be able to Blarney Castle's Tower, you may kiss the blarney stone. It is said that a king had saved a witch from drowning so she cast a spell upon the stone that anyone who kissed it would be able to speak with elegant persuasion.
There are several superstitions surrounding the potato. The simplest superstition is that it will help against indigestion. Some more elaborate traditions include carrying a potato in your pocket to help a toothache, ease aches and pains by rubbing the water potatoes were boiled in on the affected area, and ease a sore through by tying a stocking filled with a baked potato around your neck.
The Celtic cross was first introduced by St. Patrick himself. He took the sun cross in the Irish pagan traditions and combined it with the Christian cross to signify the trinity. This was yet another way he began swaying many Irish pagans to Christianity. Regardless of how you look at it, it represents life.
It is said that if the inside of your palm itches then you will be receiving money soon. If the top of your hand itches you will be losing money.
If you happen to find a horse's back tooth, you should carry it with you always. If you do, you always have money. This only works if you happen across one. You cannot pull one from a horse's mouth.
The tradition of nailing a horseshoe over your door is believed to keep evil fairies and the devil out of your home. You always turn the horseshoe up so the luck won't spill out.
You should never hand someone a knife. You should always set it down on the table or counter first. This isn't for physical safety reasons. It is said to bring bad luck if you take a knife that is handed to you. There is another superstition regarding eating utensils. If you drop your spoon a woman is coming to see you. If you drop your knife, it will be a man who pays you a visit. If you drop a fork, it could be either a man or a woman that will pay you a visit.
Each day has a special hour for which wishes are granted. No one knows from day to day what that hour may be. If one is lucky enough to stumble upon that hour, one wish will be granted. It is warned that you must be careful what you wish for though, because you may regret what it is you have wished for.
If a black cat crosses your path on St. Patrick's Day, some believe this will cause bad luck. In order to reverse the bad luck you must immediately form a triangle with your fingers and spit through the triangle.
Cats in General
In addition to black cat superstitions, it is said that if you kill a cat even accidentally, you will have seventeen years of bad luck. Even so much as kicking a cat can cause rheumatism. So think twice before being mean to a cat.
Walking Around a Pole
It is said that if you are walking with a friend and come to a pole such as a telephone pole, tree, light pole, etc you must walk around the pole on the same side as your friend. If you don't, it will cause one of you to have to face a disappointment.
It is said that if you hear a Banshee's cry, someone in your family will die. It doesn't matter if that family member is far away, the banshee will bring news of it to the family before anyone else. Of course, it is also said that banshees pay the most attention to the five great Gaelic families which are the O'Neills, the O'Briens, the O'Gradys, the Kavanaughs and the O'Connors.
As we celebrate St. Patrick's Day to honor St. Patrick and the Irish heritage, keep in mind the folklore behind the superstitions. So whether you take these superstitions seriously or just laugh them off, without superstitions any culture's folklore may not be as exciting.
Your Feedback Matters
How do you celebrate St. Patrick's Day? What traditions do you have? Do you believe in any of the superstitions associated with St. Patrick's Day? Are there any other St. Patrick's Day superstitions you believe in?
Feel free to leave a comment below to share your belief, traditions, and experiences regarding St. Patrick's Day.
© 2015 Linda Sarhan