iStock/shironosovEvery 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. Patrick’s Day in the 7th century.
Back then, St. Patrick’s Day was a religious holiday celebrated only in Ireland, and green wasn’t even part of the equation. The original color associated with St. Patrick’s 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 Ireland’s chivalry, was a sky blue known as “St. Patrick’s Blue.” So how did the feast day of the patron saint of Ireland get this obsession with green?
One of the reasons green replaced blue was because of Ireland’s 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 doesn’t 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 can’t talk about St. Patrick’s 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 they’re rarely seen anything other than green, and, legend has it, they pinch anyone not wearing their favorite color.
And isn’t that reason enough to wear green?
(Check out these other mind-blowing facts about the month of March.)