why do we wear green on st patrick's day
Every March 17, we break out every piece of green clothing and jewelry, don shamrock-shaped pins and glasses, and dye our bagels and beverages (particularly alcoholic ones) green. Not quite the way people celebrated St. PatrickБs Day in the 7th century. Back then, St. Patrick s Day was a religious holiday celebrated only in Ireland, and green wasnБt even part of the equation. The original color associated with St. PatrickБs Day was actually blue. Early depictions of St. Patrick show him wearing blue, and the official color of the Order of St. Patrick, part of IrelandБs chivalry, was a sky blue known as БSt. PatrickБs Blue. Б So how did the feast day of the patron saint of Ireland get this obsession with green? (These. )
One of the reasons green replaced blue was because of IrelandБs nickname, The Emerald Isle. The green stripe in the Irish flag also played a role. Traditionally, the green represents the Catholics of Ireland, the orange represents the Protestant population, and the white in the middle symbolizes the peace between the two religions.
The religious symbolism doesnБt stop there. St. Patrick used green shamrocks to teach people about the Holy Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit), another justification for greenifying everything. Of course, we canБt talk about St. PatrickБs Day without mentioning leprechauns. Back in the day, these mischievous little guys were said to wear red and gold jackets with pointy red hats. Now theyБre rarely seen anything other than green, and, legend has it, they pinch anyone not wearing their favorite color. And isnБt that reason enough to wear green? (Check out these other. ) More:, On, everyone is seeing whether it s the green, green beer, or green clothing and bead necklaces. Many might believe that the Emerald Isle and the color green are linked because of the country s verdant landscape, but the association actually traces its roots to Irish political history.
In fact, blue is believed to have been associated with Ireland before green was. Henry the VIII claimed to be king of Ireland in the 16th century, and his flag at that point would have been blue. That s at least one reason why a blue flag with a harp is associated with the Irish President. (The harp is one of the two main symbols of Ireland, along with the Shamrock, and it dates back to the bards whose songs and stories were the chief entertainment in medieval Gaelic society. ) A light blue became associated with the Order of St. Patrick, an 18th century era order of knights, perhaps to create a shade of blue for the Irish that was different from the royal blue associated with the English, says Timothy McMahon, Vice President of the American Conference for Irish Studies. McMahon argues the earliest use of green for nationalistic reasons was seen during the violent Great Irish Rebellion of 1641, in which displaced Catholic landowners and bishops rebelled against the authority of the English crown, which had established a large plantation in the north of Ireland under King James I in the early 17th century.
Military commander Owen Roe O Neill helped lead the rebellion, and used a green flag with a harp to represent the Confederation of Kilkenny, a group that sought to govern Ireland and kick out the Protestants who had taken control of that land in the north of Ireland. (They were ultimately defeated by. ) Get your history fix in one place: sign up for the weekly TIME History newsletter The color green cropped up again during an effort in the 1790s to bring nonsectarian, republican ideas to Ireland, inspired by the American revolution and the French revolution. The main society that promoted this idea, the Society of United Irishmen, wore green, especially an Irish version of the worn during the French Revolution. described their uniform as comprised of a dark green shirt cloth coat, green and white striped trousers, and a felt hat turned up on one side with a green emblematic cockade.
Though the rest of the uniform eventually faded from popular wear, the importance of the color green spread, thanks in part to the poems and ballads written during this time, most famously The Wearing of the Green. You start to see different traditions building up around colors the Protestant tradition is orange, the nationalist tradition associated with the Catholics is green, McMahon adds. The origins of the wearing of green clothing in the U. S. on St. Patrick s Day and for St. Patrick s Day celebrations in general date back to the 19th century, when waves of Irish immigrants came to America looking for better job opportunities, especially after the of the 1840s-50s, and began wearing green and carrying Irish flags along with American flags as a point of pride for their home country.
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