Mar 11, 2011

Classic Symbols of St. Patrick's Day ~ Part One

The Wearing of the Green
The Irish have a saying that goes, "There are only two kinds of people in the world. The Irish and those who wish they were." Well, for one day a year we are all given license to be Irish if that's what our wee little hearts desire.

We, in America, have a funny way of taking holidays from other countries and "making them our own" by combining long standing traditions with a few new-fangled ideas and twists of our own. St. Patrick's Day is no exception.   

Although green is the widely accepted color of Ireland the Irish do not go in for the "everything green" on St. Patrick's Day the way we Americans do. We figure that along with adding to the fun of St. Patrick's Day, wearing green helps to make us just a little more Irish, if only for one day.

As most Americans know, if you are caught on St. Patty's day not wearing green your epidermis is in great peril of being pinched. The tradition of pinching non-green wearing people was a game begun by American school children in the early 1700's. Tradition holds that Leprechaun's, who are wee little creatures of fairy persuasion, are not particularly fond of humans and that they derive great pleasure from pinching a non-suspecting human whenever they get the chance, but anyone who wears green becomes instantly invisible to the Leprechauns and thus will not be pinched. 

Why Green?   
There are several reasons why green is considered the color of St. Patrick's Day. But first, did you know that the original color associated with St. Patrick was blue? Find out why here

The color green became the color of St. Patrick's Day in the 1700's. 

First, we know that Ireland is referred to as "The Emerald Isle" because of it's lush, green landscape. 

Secondly, the Irish flag consists of three colors: green, on the left side - which represents the Catholic population, orange, on the right side - which represents the Protestant population, and white, in the middle - which represents peace between the two groups. Since St. Patrick's Day is a Catholic feast day it is represented by the color green.  

Lastly, as we learned in an earlier post, the story is told that St. Patrick, who lived during the 4th century, taught the concept of the Holy Trinity to the Irish people through the use of a shamrock, and in actuality, the phrase "wearing of the green" refers to a time during the 1798 Rebellion when men would wear a shamrock on their hat or coat to signify their support of the rebellion which, in some cases, was punishable by hanging.

And on that note. . . we see that there are several symbolic meanings behind the color green for St. Patrick's Day. . . and now you know.

1 comment:

  1. This is wonderful! (And so is the post above). I always thought the green was for the color of the land. Thanks for digging up the history for us! Love your this day in history link as well, that is awesome. I love exploring your site with my boys over my shoulder looking too, it is an education for all of us. Thanks for all you do.