Why Do We Wear Green on St. Patrick’s Day?

Why Do We Wear Green on St. Patrick’s Day?

By Vanessa Palencia

Because Ireland’s nickname is “The Emerald Isle” and because the green clover symbolizes the country? While that is true, did you know that the Irish originally celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in blue because the saint himself was associated with blue? The Smithsonian Magazine incorporates what they claim to be the earliest painting of St. Patrick himself dressed in blue robes.

Why blue?

Well, besides the saint himself donning blue, it is said that when King Henry VIII of England took the throne, he wanted to expand his power, so he secured Ireland by naming himself the King of Ireland and creating a coat of arms: a gold harp with a blue background. This symbol is still found on the Constitution of Ireland and the Presidential flag. However, blue has always been associated with British rule, and one of Ireland’s first flags was a picture of three golden crowns on a blue background during the Lordship of Ireland ruling. The banner was established by Edward IV and ruling was given to Robert de Vere by Richard II. Ireland wasn’t represented by the color green until the 1798 Irish Rebellion when the Irish used the color in retaliation against the British rule. The Irish chose to use the clover (the inspirational source for the color green) to symbolize nationalism. Since then, the color has been steadfast in its association with Ireland.

However, in addition to wearing green to honor St. Patrick and represent Ireland, when Irish immigrants made their way to the United States, they brought with them the belief that wearing green would make them invisible to leprechauns. According to the legend, the leprechauns would pinch anyone they could see, so people would pinch those not wearing green as a reminder that they are visible to the tiny creatures. So whether you are wearing green to avoid the painful pinchings throughout the day or to honor the memory of the saint, remember the origins of Ireland and the real reason we wear green today.  

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