The Origins of the Tradition of Wearing Green on St. Patrick's Day
My Irish grandma Jennie was a Jenkins. Her family hailed from the Irish province of Ulster and settled in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. Her real name was Melissa Jane Jenkins, but people called her Jennie, short for Jenkins I guess. Jennie Jenkins was a voracious reader, and aspiring writer. If Hubpages had been in existence during her lifetime I'm certain she would have written thousands of hubs as she was a gardener, cook, seamstress, antique collector, and story-teller. So when I saw a Hub question about the tradition of wearing green on St. Paddy's Day I decided to take it on.
There's a bit of controvery in this hub about the origins of wearing green on St. Patrick's Day, as Jennie was a Protestant. You see, in Ireland, Protestant's don't wear green, they wear orange...as in King William the Orange.
To distinguish themselves from the Roman Catholics, the Irish Protestants were called "Scotch-Irish" in America. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scotch-Irish_American
The Irish Flag
The Irish flag is a tri-color design made up of green, white and orange. Green represents the Catholics, orange the Protestants, and white the peace between them. Right.
So, basically, wearing green on St. Patrick's Day is an American tradition.
In Ireland, you get pinched if you wear orange on St. Patrick's Day.
In America, you get pinched for not wearing green, period.
But I digress...
What do we know about St. Patrick? There are many fables about him, such as driving the snakes out of Ireland, which doesn't have any snakes.
St. Patrick was actually born into a wealthy British family in the 4th Century. At the age of 16 he was kidnapped by Irish raiders, taken to Ireland and held captive as a slave until he had a dream from God urging him to flee and return to Britain, which he did, and became a priest.
He eventually returned to Ireland on a mission that lasted 30 years, and converted the Celtic Druids there to Christianity.
He died on March 17 in AD 461 in County Down.
Beginning in the 1700s, St. Patrick's Day, a Roman Catholic Feast Day, was celebrated in America by the Irish immigrants with parades, which it is surmised were used to bring attention to, and in protest of, their low social status.
Today, St. Patrick's Day has evolved into a secular celebration which now covers several continents.
The Wear'n o' the Green
Despite the fact that Ireland is known as the "Emerald Isle", it has little to do with it.
Here's the deal: St. Patrick integrated the green three-leafed shamrock in his sermons to explain the Trinity to the Druids, thus easing Christianity into their culture, which included wearing green during the spring equinox.
Before the 1798 Rebellion you wore a shamrock in your hat to signify your support, also known as "the wearing o' the green".
Despite the fact that my Grandma Jennie was an Irish Protestant, I still celebrate St. Patrick's Day by wearing green, serving corned beef and cabbage with soda bread, and drinking lots of beer, and I do so out of the love I have for that magical place, Ireland, and all things Irish.
Top o' the morn'n to ya!
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