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Why do people get pinched on Saint Patrick's Day if they do not wear green?

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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.

Pinching those not wearing green on St. Patrick's Day is an American tradition, having really nothing to do with Ireland or St. Patrick Wrong. I have lived in Ireland. The truth is, Irish people think Americans are crazy. St. Patrick's Day is not even remotely celebrated over there as heavily as it is in the US.

WikiAnswers users share their ideas on the origin:
  • Many years ago, playful Irish children began the tradition of pinching people who forgot to wear green on St. Patrick's Day and the tradition is still practiced today.
  • 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.
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