03/16/2014 11:23 EDT | Updated 05/16/2014 05:59 EDT

Sticky Situation: Office St. Patrick's Day Dos and Don'ts

Sticky situation:

Every March 17th, all over Canada and the world, employees go to their closets in search of a little, or a lot, of something green to wear. Some even bring Irish treats and delicacies to eat at lunch or share at break. Others look forward to the traditional happy hour green beer and most don't know that Patrick was not Irish.

Whatttttt! No need to reread. That's right, you read it here; St-Patrick was not Irish.

Remove your shamrock lined green glasses and read on for St-Patrick Day origins plus office dos and don'ts of this mid-lent religious celebration, now turned popular.

Born in Britain --this is the fact that you were looking for -- to an aristocratic family, at the age of 16 or so, the young man who would become St. Patrick was captured by pirates and brought to Ireland, as an atheist, to herd sheep.

He spent "six years a slave" in captivity, afraid and lonely. It is in that state that he turned to Christianity for solace. A dream called him back to his homeland before he choose to be ordained. A second vision returned him back to Ireland to spread the Gospel. For four decades, he preached and converted. He died at the end of the fifth century on March 17th.

It is said that Patrick used the shamrock to teach the Christian Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. His parishioners wore shamrocks on their lapels or hats, to attend to his services. At the end of the day, men "drowned their shamrock" by transferring it to their glass to be topped off by their favourite spirit. On their last drink, they threw it over their left shoulder.


Did you know?

St. Patrick's day was a dry holiday in Ireland until 1970. Being a religious holiday the pubs were closed.

  • Blue was the original colour associated with St. Patrick. It changed to green in the 19th century when Ireland choose green to symbolize their nation.
  • The first St. Patrick day parade was not in Ireland. It was in New York City in 1762. As seen on the bottom right of the Montreal flag, by the presence of a shamrock, Ireland is one of the four founding nations of the city. Montrealers will be proudly parading for the 191st time.
  • Barack Obama has Irish roots.


  • Wear something in a shade of green, there are more than "fifty shades" to choose from, or a shamrock motif scarf, tie, pin, broach or even socks with pants.
  • Join in the spirit of the occasion and share a happy hour green drink or enjoy a baked green good at break time.
  • Decorate while respecting the company's core values. This could be a great day to start an "eco-friendly green" initiative.


  • Wear a headband with bobbing shamrocks; it is distracting. On the day after, people will have a hard time taking you seriously. I know they are fun and cute. Wear them at home and with loved ones.
  • Wear a green top hat; it could make you look like the Lucky Charm cereals' leprechaun. As an employee, it is never appropriate to wear a hat indoors, unless you are wearing a construction hat in a construction zone. In business, eye contact is a primary intention indicator. People look in your eyes in search of transparency, authenticity and seriousness. This accessory could mask your professional message.
  • Wear a t-shirt or anything else for that matter, with a shamrock that says: Kiss me I'm Irish. This is not just distracting but could be a very "Sticky situation" when an oncoming person decides to pucker up.
  • Bring your favourite cabbage dish to be reheated in the office microwave. That distinct smell is disagreeable to most of us not salivating at the thought of the traditional slaw.
  • Even think of pinching a colleague, a client or even a competitor, for not wearing green! The American legend goes that if you are wearing green, you become invisible to leprechauns. On the flip side, if you are not wearing green, they, who are wearing green become "invisible" mischievous leprechauns and pinch you. Since Barack Obama is President there is a growing popularity with hugging and in French Canada the "air-kiss" may be acceptable, but in Canada and in North America, the only touch permitted in business is...? The handshake.
  • And lastly don't say: "Happy St-Patty's Day!" Why? It is not St-Patricia's Day.

    Happy St-Paddy's Day and may the luck of the Irish be with you!

Have a sticky situation at work or home? This is your forum. Write to Julie and she will reply promptly. Want more solutions to sticky situations? Check out Facebook, Twitter or order your autographed copy of Etiquette: Confidence & Credibility. Planning a conference? Julie happily travels coast to coast and beyond, to present customized activities.


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Traditional St. Patrick's Day Recipes
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