Green St Patricks Day: What is St Patricks day and why do we wear green on St Patricks day?

St. Patricks Day

Every March 17th, many places around the globe celebrate St Patrick’s Day with parades, costumes, wearing green, glugging down Irish beer and  generally having some good old craic! Why do we wear green on this day? And more importantly, what are we actually celebrating?

St Patrick’s Day History

Why do we celebrate St Patrick’s day? Basically it’s because we’re celebrating the bringing of Christianity to Ireland.

St Patrick was a British priest living in the 4th Century. It is said that around 432AD he had a vision in a dream that he would go to Ireland and preach to the Irish to Christianize the pagans who were living there. He embarked on a 30-year missionary operation to convert the pagans to Christianity, and in spite of some problems with the druids, he eventually succeeded gloriously. He was strategic in his efforts and preached to highly influential, powerful people and to nobles whose example was likely to be followed, to help bring on a smooth shift into the new religion.  It is largely thanks to him that to this day Ireland is a strongly Christian country, decorated with beautiful churches, monasteries and religious art. For this reason, St Patrick is known as the Patron Saint of Ireland, and for this reason his death-day anniversary is celebrated every March 17th.

Why do people wear green on St Patrick’s day?

On St Patrick’s day you might see people wearing green clothes, drinking green beer, and if you’re in Chicago you’ll even see the Chicago River being dyed green in honour of St Patrick’s day! Why green on St Patrick’s day?

The Chicago River has been dyed green every year since 1962 in honour of St Patrick's Day.

Image by Mike Boehmer

That’s a good question, particularly since the color associated with Saint Patrick was in fact blue!

White Shamrocks in Green Shamrock Postcard postcard

Possible Reason 1: Green is associated with Saint Patrick because of the green Shamrock he used to teach about Christianity:

The connection of St Patrick’s Day to the color green may be linked to the role of the shamrock in Saint Patrick’s life story.  Legend has it that Saint Patrick used a green shamrock to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity to the pagans. It illustrated the idea of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, as *one* entity, one God. This is just like how the three leaves are part of one shamrock – but you need all the parts to make it complete.

White Shamrocks in Green Shamrock Postcard postcard

Possible Reason 2: St Patrick’s day celebrates an Irish tradition and green is the color that is most representative of Ireland:

Because St Patrick’s day culturally evolved into a celebration of Irishness more than of Christianity, this may have led to celebrating with a color that represented the “Emerald Isle” most fittingly. People say that the Irish landscape has 40 shades of green with its lush pastures throughout its countryside, so no color is more appropriate in representing Ireland really!

White Shamrocks in Green Shamrock Postcard postcard

Possible Reason 3: Green on the Irish flag represents Catholicism, and Saint Patrick was Catholic

The color green has been used historically to represent various groups in Ireland, particularly the Irish Catholic nationalists of the south, and eventually this color was adopted as part of the official country’s flag in 1919. The Irish flag is a tri-color of green, white and orange. The green is said to be representative of the Catholics in the country, the orange signifies the Protestants, and the white stands for the peace between them. It is appropriate then that St Patrick’s day, a Catholic celebration, is represented by the color green.

If St Patrick’s day is such an Irish-centred celebration, why do we celebrate it all over the world?

It is likely that the reason the celebrations reached far and wide is due to Irish immigrants spreading their traditions where-ever they went, as they tried to rekindle a taste of home. The fun of the celebrations was so enticing that, as the cheeky Irish saying goes: “There are only two kinds of people in the world: the Irish and those who wish they were!” Judging by the global celebrations of St Patrick’s Day, there may indeed be some truth to this saying!

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3 Responses to Green St Patricks Day: What is St Patricks day and why do we wear green on St Patricks day?

  1. Pingback: The Best Kind of Stumbling for St. Patrick’s Day – Sites Gone Viral

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  3. Kid says:

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