The History of St. Patrick’s Day

March 16, 2010 at 12:28 am 8 comments

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.

Related: Use Blue Food Coloring to Make Green Beer

Broken Secrets

Written By: Chad Upton

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Source: History.com, St Patrick’s Blue, The Wearing of the Green, St Patrick’s Day

Entry filed under: Be Green, Demystified, Despite Popular Belief, Food and Drink. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Bad Fats Can be Hidden on Nutrition Labels Use Blue Food Coloring to Make Green Beer

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Brett  |  March 16, 2010 at 9:53 am

    So this would have to be the reason why the Notre Dame Fighting Irish wear navy blue uniforms primarily, instead of wearing kelly green. It all makes sense now!

    Reply
  • [...] 17, 2010 Yesterday, I talked about the history of St. Patricks Day — why we celebrate it, how the color green and the shamrock became the symbols they are [...]

    Reply
  • 3. blackwatertown  |  March 17, 2010 at 11:40 am

    Good idea to make the day after St Patrick’s Day a public holiday of recovery. On the other hand, two days of it in a row might go terribly wrong.
    But you’re probably wondering about the story of how St Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland. The real story is here http://wp.me/pDjed-eT

    Reply
  • 4. Heedraba  |  April 20, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    Why all the fuss about St Patrick’s Day anyway? What about celebrating St Andrew’s, St David’s, St George’s or any other country’s patron saints day more?

    Reply
  • 5. invincibleprobity  |  March 16, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Interesting angle. There are three articles posted at http://invincibleprobity.wordpress.com/ that offer a slightly different perspective on St. Patrick’s Day and the Irish, although they take a little more time to read through. Unfortunately, they’re also a little short on humor. I’d start with “Irish In America”.

    Reply
  • 6. Shirley Robert  |  March 11, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    Reblogged this on Adventures of a Bionic Mom and commented:
    Fun Facts for St. Pat’s!

    Reply
  • 7. Clairsentient1  |  March 12, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    Reblogged this on Beacon of Aquarius.

    Reply
  • 8. Rebel Green and Bacchanalia: Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  |  March 17, 2014 at 7:33 am

    […] The actual origins of the “Wearing of the Green” are political, dating back to 1798 when Irish soldiers wore green uniforms on March 17th to signal solidarity with the Society of United Irishmen whose aim it was to end British rule in Ireland. That’s when the song and the color green became synonymous with both rebellion and St. Patrick’s Day. […]

    Reply

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