St Patrick Day : History of Wearing Green

St. Patrick’s Day is almost here, and you know what that means. Get out your green garb, find some shamrocks and build up your strength to partake in some over-21 festivities, if you know what I mean.

St. Patrick’s Day is a day for anyone, whether you are Irish or not, to let loose and have a bit of fun. But how did St. Patrick’s Day become the big party that it is today with parades, kissing the Blarney Stone, lots of drinking and revelry in general? Well, let’s just say this holiday didn’t start out as one big pub crawl. The history of St. Patrick’s Day is much more modest than today’s celebrations would lead you to believe.

Here are nine things you need to know about why and how we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

St. Patrick’s Day started out as a feast day for St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland (more on him later). A feast day is pretty much just a celebration, usually in the Christian faith, that is commemorated with a meal. People traditionally celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by attending mass and thinking about the life and legacy of St. Patrick, according to PennLive.

These days, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations don’t have much to do with the man for which the holiday is named. Nonetheless, he is an important figure in Irish Catholic history. Ironically, St. Patrick wasn’t even Irish. He was born in Britain around A.D. 390 to an aristocratic Christian family, according to National Geographic. According to folklore, St. Patrick was kidnapped and brought to Ireland at 16, but he escaped and was reunited with his family in Britain at the encouragement of a voice he heard in his dreams, which later told him to go to Ireland. St. Patrick became a priest and then spent the rest of his life converting the Irish to Christianity.

One common myth about St. Patrick is that he drove all of the snakes out of Ireland. As much as that sounds like a Ridley Scott movie, this is unfortunately just a myth. Sure, there are no snakes in Ireland today, but there actually never were, according to National Geographic. The frigid waters that surround Ireland made it too cold for snakes to arrive there from Britain. When literature mentions St. Patrick getting rid of all of the snakes in Ireland, it is probably just a metaphor for ridding the country of its “old, evil, pagan ways,” according to National Geographic

We celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on March 17 every year, but why is that? No, it’s not just to have a holiday in March, which is usually a dull month in terms of major celebrations. The date commemorates the day St. Patrick died, believed to be in A.D. 461. Upon his death, St. Patrick was mostly forgotten, according to National Geographic. However, a mythology grew around the religious figure, and by the 9th or 10th century, people in Ireland began observing St. Patrick’s Day as a feast day.

Why Do You Wear Green On St. Patrick’s Day? See History Behind Emerald Tradition

On March 17, we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, a day rich in tradition and goes way back in history. We associate the color green with this holiday, but that color has not always been the color used on this holiday. St. Patrick’s Day was originally a Catholic holiday celebrating Ireland’s patron saint. It was only celebrated in Ireland. In the 1700s Irish immigrants in the U.S. started the first St. Patty’s Day Parade in New York City.

Blue was the color originally associated with this holiday. Ireland’s nickname is “The Emerald Isle” so because of this, green became a more popular color on this holiday.  Also the green in the flag and the clover St. Patrick used in his teachings about Catholicism played a big role in why green is the color used on this day. Some still follow the tradition in Ireland. Catholics will wear green and Protestants will wear orange. These colors are colors represented on the flag and the white in the middle represents the peace between the two.

There is a legend that wearing green on this day makes you invisible and leprechauns can’t pinch you because they can’t see you. Nowadays, St Patty’s Day is an excuse to party, drink, wear green and go around pinching people that aren’t wearing green. Now that you know the history behind why we wear green on this holiday, are you planning on wearing green on Monday?

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