The Real Color of St. Patrick’s Day

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What do YOU know about St. Patrick’s Day?

If you’re like most people, you think of drunken Irish toasting a Catholic priest, the color green tinting everything in view.

Or maybe you think of the tacky “Irish” quotes displayed on mass-made clothing with pictures of leprechauns and rainbows with pots of gold.

But is that REALLY what St. Patrick’s Day is supposed to be, was originally?

St. Patrick lived in the fourth century, and was a Christian missionary and bishop to the eventually Protestant Northern Ireland, making efforts to convert the pagan Irish and Druids to Christianity.

While he is not specifically Catholic, at that time there wasn’t all the denominations there is now, and given that most known about him is from his writings, largely undated, there isn’t much known about him. He did apparently quote from the early fifth-century Vulgate Bible version, which was an early Latin version that became the Catholic’s officially promoted and used Bible.

While he became a missionary sometime later in his life, the British-born Patrick did experience Ireland as a young 16-year-old captured slave. Previous to his capture, despite his father’s being a deacon and his grandfather a priest, Patrick was not a believer. He found God in his captive years and was forgiven of his sins, increased his relationship with God by prayer and was a Christian.

After a vision where he heard “The Voice of the Irish” appealing to him to come back and help them, he returned to Ireland to work as Bishop.

While many people assume the wearing of green, the Order of St. Patrick (an Anglo-Irish chivalric order)’s chosen color was blue. The color green is the color of Irish nationalism, chosen by the United Irishmen (republican group, mostly Protestant with some Catholics) who launched a rebellion against British rule in 1798. Since it was associated with the rebellion, the color green was outlawed for awhile and people wearing it persecuted.

St. Patrick’s Day is the supposed day of St. Patrick’s death.

St. Patrick’s Day was more widely celebrated in other countries among the scattered Irish, being celebrated in North America in the 18th century while it was not celebrated in Ireland until the 20th century. It is celebrated by the Catholic Church, Anglican Communion, Eastern Orthodox Church, and Lutheran Church, as well as Irish nationals, with feasts and religious celebrations.

The thing is, in the recent years St. Patrick’s Day celebrations have become more commercialized and celebrate more the caricatures of Ireland, the unrealistic and hardly Irish impressions of people not truly Irish.

The Irish have tried to change their celebrations to celebrating what they want others to notice about Ireland: their creativity, professionalism, and sophistication, and their wide appeal.

So, what color are you wearing tomorrow?

 

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