March 17, 2009
We’ve talked a lot this past week about St. Patrick’s Day, but mostly related to food and parties. I was talking to the kids last night about wearing green on St. Patrick”s Day and it made me wonder what started the tradition of ‘wearing the green’.
So, of course, I started googling. What did we do before we had the internet? (Oh, I remember, we pulled out the encyclopedias!)
I found this on Wikipedia and thought it was pretty interesting:
St. Patrick’s Blue, not green, was the color long-associated with St. Patrick. Green, the color most widely associated with Ireland, with Irish people, and with St. Patrick’s Day in modern times, may have gained its prominence through the phrase “the wearing of the green” meaning to wear a shamrock on one’s clothing. At many times in Irish history, to do so was seen as a sign of Irish nationalism or loyalty to the Roman Catholic faith. St. Patrick used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pre-Christian Irish. The wearing of and display of shamrocks and shamrock-inspired designs have become a ubiquitous feature of the saint’s holiday. The change to Ireland’s association with green rather than blue probably began around the 1750s.
So, I decided to find out a little more about where the leprechaun came from. Again, this is from Wikipedia:
In Irish mythology, a leprechaun (Irish: leipreachán) is a type of male faerie said to inhabit the island of Ireland. They are a class of “faerie folk” associated in Irish folklore with the Tuatha Dé Danann and other quasi-historical peoples said to have inhabited Ireland before the arrival of the Celts.
Leprechauns usually take the form of old men who enjoy partaking in mischief. Their trade is that of a cobbler or shoemaker. They are said to be very rich, having many treasure crocks buried during war-time. According to legend, if anyone keeps an eye fixed upon one, he cannot escape, but the moment the gaze is withdrawn, he vanishes.
So, as we partake in all the fun of this St. Patrick’s Day; we wear green, we eat green, and we even drink green. I think it’s nice to know a little more about how it all began. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!