St. Patrick's Day

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This Used To Be The Official Color For St. Patrick's Day

It wasn't always green.

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For you, it’s not enough to simply celebrate a holiday. You want to show up wearing a festive frock that matches the mood (and colors) of the occasion, too. And St. Patrick’s Day (with its shamrocks, leprechauns, and lucky clovers) is certainly no exception. But, as you’re going through your closet to pick out an outfit for the shenanigans, you’ll need to know the St. Patrick’s Day colors, because shockingly, it wasn’t always green.

Many holidays have certain colors that are symbolic of the festivities. July 4 has red, white, and blue. Halloween is all about orange and black. So, of course, you might question what the real color of St. Patrick’s Day is, especially if you’re dressing up your child for an in-school party, or want to hit up your local parade — and see all those kilt-clad men tooting their bagpipes. And that’s why it might surprise you that green hasn’t always been the official St. Patrick’s Day color.

The history of St. Patrick’s Day colors

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That’s right, forget about Kelly green. Light blue was the original color representing St. Patrick. A big part of that has to do with the fact that earliest depictions of St. Patrick showed him donning blue garments… and not green. In fact, in 1783, George III (who was King of Great Britain and Ireland), decreed an order of chivalry for the Kingdom of Ireland, which was then known as the Order of St. Patrick. It’s official color: Sky blue.

Why did the St. Patrick’s Day color became green?

For a while, the Irish were true-blue to using the color blue as the symbol of St. Patrick. It wasn’t until the 1798 Irish Rebellion that things began to change, per Time. Wearing a clover symbolized patriotic nationalism in Ireland at the time, and wearing green soon became standard practice, which included uniforms as well. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Ireland is also lovingly known as The Emerald Isle, and is famously verdant. Perhaps as the holiday became more known internationally as a celebration of Ireland more than strictly tied to St. Patrick himself, it was inevitable that blue became replaced by green.

Official St. Patrick’s Day colors today

If you’re going to a St. Patrick’s Day gathering today, well, you’d better get your green on, because it is the most acceptable color to wear on March 17. Famously, if you’re not wearing green you just might get pinched! That said, don’t feel like green is the only color you can don, though. You can display your passion for Ireland by wearing the colors of the Irish flag! Crisp white and vibrant orange definitely make a statement. Sure, if you’re not careful, you could potentially look like an Oompa Loompa, but it’s a small risk for showing off that Irish pride.

And there you have it. Although blue was the color to wear on St. Patrick’s Day in the past, today, everything (from the clothes you wear to the beer you drink) should be green in honor of the patron saint of Ireland. Sláinte!

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