Who Is St. Patrick And Why The Color Green

21 February 2023
By Sarah Angela Almaden
Japanese House
Unsplash: K. Mitch Hodge

You had me at the color green. Green like the beautiful leaves on a tree on a very nice spring day. Green like the sprawling vines that remind you of a cottage from a fairytale. Green like the color of the luscious land all over the Emerald Isle. All the forty-nine shades of green and more that the human eye can see are the most important colors of this day, this St. Patrick’s Day. You might ask why, and that is because the color green plays an important role in Irish culture.

St. Patrick’s Day or St. Paddy’s Day is celebrated on the 17th of March, in honor of Saint Patrick who is the patron saint of Ireland. Saint Patrick is not Irish. In fact, he was born in Roman Britain. However, he was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Ireland. When he escaped enslavement after six years, he returned to Ireland and brought Christianity to the Irish people.

The Legend of St. Patrick and The Snakes
Popular Irish folklore has it that St. Patrick got rid of all the slithering snakes all over the green hills and fields of Ireland forever. But how did he do it? Well, it was believed that the Emerald Isle was surrounded by lots and lots of snakes. That one day, donned in his green garb, St. Paddy bravely stood on the Irish hillside. He waved his staff and banished all the snakes from Ireland and into the sea. Ever since then, there has been no sighting of snakes in the green isle. Thank you, St. Patrick!

Interestingly, according to research snakes never lived in Ireland. And records of snake fossils have never been discovered in the country at all. As a result, many people believe that the snake was the symbol of pagans or Druids and that Saint Patrick is responsible for its banishment, as he introduced Christianity into the great island of Ireland.

Whether or not it was Saint Paddy who gave Ireland its snake-free status, it is he who brought Christianity to the place, which plays an essential part in Irish cultural identity.

The Legend of St. Patrick and The Shamrock
The Shamrock. The sprig of luck. The three-leaf clover that you can pluck. This iconic symbol yet unofficial flower of Ireland is believed to have magical powers. Some people believe that the luck of the shamrock can break a naughty leprechaun's curse. Others believe that holding or wearing a shamrock will drive away evil spirits. And a few believe that this sprig of charm can foresee the future weather – will it be nice and sunny or will it be rainy and gloomy, oh lucky three-leaf clover please give us a sign.

According to legend, when Saint Patrick converted the Irish to Christianity, he used the shamrock to explain the ideas of the Holy Trinity to them. As a result, the shamrock became a symbol of St. Patrick and Christian beliefs. In addition, this three-leaf clover is also believed to be an essential lucky charm, allowing you to sense harmful spirits surrounding you so that you can escape the bad juju immediately. On the other hand, if you ever find a four-leaf clover that is considered to represent the Holy Trinity plus God's Grace, this implies that more luck abounds in you!

When in doubt, have a shamrock for luck! With faith, love, and luck on each corner of the lucky leaf, your days will be colorful and bright!

The Legend of St. Patrick and The Color Green
On Saint Patrick’s Day, the color green is everywhere. Green beer. Green cake. Green cookies. Green shirt. Green pants. Green bead necklaces. Green socks. Mostly everything is decorated in all shades of green, because if you’re not wearing a speck of green, then one or five leprechauns will pinch you. So to be safe: WEAR GREEN.

Ireland is also known as the Emerald Isle, and the color green can be found all around the country, from the rolling green hills to the lush countryside. But why is green such an important color for this season?

  • Green wasn’t the first color of choice for this special celebration, but the color blue. However, when the shamrock was introduced in the 18th century, the color green became more popular.
  • The color green is associated with political reasons and it’s thought to have been used for nationalistic purposes during the 1641 Great Irish Rebellion. The Irish Catholics rebelled against the British crown at this time and they adopted the color green to symbolize their confederation, driving away the protestants who controlled the northern part of Ireland.
  • These little and magical creatures based on Celtic fairies, often known as “leprechauns,” are notorious for their mischievous ways. The lore says that wearing green makes you invisible, protecting you from getting pinched by these Irish trickster fairies. And on this important day, those who aren’t wearing something green will need to beware.

Irish Greetings

  • Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to you! (greeting to one person) – Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona duit!
  • Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to you! (greeting to a group of people) – Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona daoibh!
  • Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! – Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig dhuit!