The History of St. Patrick’s Day
March 17th is the big day. I’m giving you some notice so you can dig to the bottom of your laundry pile, find your green shirt from last year and put it in the washing machine.
If you can’t find a green shirt, go with a blue one instead. According to historians, blue was the original color associated with Saint Patrick. In fact, the 1912 dress code for Lord Chamberlain specified that the household of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland should wear St. Patrick’s blue.
The 1924 Irish Olympic football team wore St Patrick’s blue and the Northern Ireland team (known then as the “Ireland association football team”) wore St. Patrick’s blue jerseys from 1882 until 1931, when they switched to green.
Let me tell you why…
Saint Patrick was born in Roman Britain in the fifth century. Although little is known about his early life, we know that he was kidnapped by Irish Raiders at age 16 and taken to Ireland as a slave. He said that God talked to him in a dream, telling him to flee from captivity and head for the coast where he could board a ship and return to Britain.
He did exactly that and upon returning to Britain, he studied to be a priest. He said he was called back to Ireland on a mission where he went as a bishop in the year 432. Apparently, he was very good at converting royalty, aristocracy and the poor. He was known for using the three-leaved shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity (the father, the son and the Holy Spirit) and the shamrock became his symbol.
People later wore shamrocks on their lapels during St. Patrick’s day. On St. Patrick’s day in 1798, Irish soldiers wore full green uniforms to make a political statement in support of the Society of United Irishmen — a political organization aimed at ending British rule over Ireland. Green became a symbol of rebellion and the famous ballad “The Wearing of the Green” was sung in the streets.
Because of this event, green eventually became the official color of St. Patrick’s day. It celebrated freedom from British rule and the shamrock paid tribute to St. Patrick himself.
St. Patrick’s day is a public holiday in Ireland, although it is widely celebrated in countries with large numbers of Irish descendants. It started as a feast day in the 1600s, a break during the fasting period of lent. We continue to indulge today, although that mostly involves green beer.
For this reason, I think the day after St. Patrick’s day would also make a good public holiday.
Written By: Chad Upton
Entry filed under: Be Green, Demystified, Despite Popular Belief, Food and Drink. Tags: 17, catholic, christian, day, history, holiday, holy, ireland, irish, luck, march, march 17, patrick, saint, st.