Go green! St. Patrick’s Day—observed every March 17—is packed with parades, good luck charms, and all things green. The event started as a religious holiday, but over time it’s become a celebration of Irish culture.
St. Patrick’s Day, United States
St. Patrick’s Day started as a minor religious holiday in 1631. The church declared it a feast day; pubs closed and observers went to church.
But the first St. Patrick’s Day parade was even earlier, and in America, according to the Washington Post. Ancient Spanish documents were discovered that showed the first recorded parade in honor of St. Patrick was in St. Augustine, Florida, in 1601. Although it was a Spanish settlement, St. Patrick was regarded as the patron saint of corn in the settlement. Since those early days, the parade tradition has spread throughout the U.S. and abroad, including Ireland.
On St. Patrick’s Day, cities across the world turn iconic monuments green: the Sydney Opera House, the Pyramids at Giza, and the Eiffel Tower are all lit with green lights. The Chicago River is dyed bright green. In the U.S., people who don’t wear the color green on St. Patrick’s Day are pinched.
Green is the color of St. Patrick’s Day, but why?
According to some scholars, the color green only became associated with Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day during the Irish Rebellion in 1798. Before then, Ireland was known for the color blue since it featured prominently in the royal court and on ancient Irish flags.
During the rebellion against Britain, however, Irish soldiers chose to wear green—the color that most contrasted the red British uniforms—and sang, “The Wearing of the Green.” This firmly established the link between Ireland and the color green.
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