Are You Wearing Green Today?

You may be wearing green today for St. Patrick's Day, but do you know why the Irish started wearing green?  Do you know anything about St. Patrick?  I find it fascinating to look up the origins of the days we celebrate, since so often we don't know the rich historical tapestry that has created the holiday.

St. patricks day

Here's a short summary of St. Patrick's life from the Georgia Public Broadcasting site (

"Patrick's birthname was Maewyn. He was born in Roman Britain. He was kidnapped into slavery and brought to Ireland.

"He escaped to a monastery in Gaul (France) and converted to Christianity. He went back to Ireland in 432 as a missionary. While Christianity had already taken hold in the country, tradition has it that Patrick confronted the Druids at Tara and abolished their pagan rites, making Christianity more widespread.

"Patrick became a bishop and after his death was named Ireland's patron saint. Celebrations in Ireland were understated though. When the Irish emigrated to the U.S., they created the bigger celebrations and parades known today."

The "wearing of the green" tradition has been ascribed to several possible origins, including the reference to Ireland as the Emerald Isle.  Before Christianity took hold, pagan rites welcomed the new green growth of spring.  Irish Catholics were identified with the color green, while orange was the color for protestants.  The Irish flag reflects this split:

Irish Flag-300

Then came the 1798 Rebellion:

"The Wearing of the Green" is an anonymously-penned Irish street ballad dating to 1798. The context of the song is the repression around the time of the Irish Rebellion of 1798. Wearing a shamrock in the "caubeen" (hat) was a sign of rebellion and green was the colour of the Society of the United Irishmen, a republican revolutionary organization. During the period, displaying revolutionary insignia was made punishable by hanging.  (

Whatever associations you have with St. Patrick's Day and the wearing of the green,  I wish you a very happy day!

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