When someone mentions Ireland, a series of images pop into mind: grassy fields and mountains, leprechauns, four-leaf clovers, and of course, the color green. What made green the color associated with Ireland in the first place? To avoid an entire history lecture on Ireland,
this article should tell you what connects the color green with Ireland.
Contrary to people’s beliefs, royal blue was originally the national color of Ireland. This was depicted in the early Irish flags, first in the banner of the Lordship of Ireland from 1177 to 1541, next in the Standard of the Kingdom of Ireland from 1541 to 1801. The color blue was also adapted by the Order of Saint Patrick in the 1780s, thus the term St. Patrick’s blue. As time wore on, Ireland became associated more with the color green.
Ireland was always known to give importance to religion. In the 1640s, the use of the green harp flag by the Irish Catholic Confederation is what made green the color associated with Ireland. The present national flag of Ireland contains the color green, along with white and orange. According to the Irish government, green on the national flag symbolizes the Gaelic political and social order of Ireland or the Catholic side while orange symbolizes the followers of William of Orange in Ireland or the protestant side. The white band in between the green and orange bands in the national flag symbolizes the unity and peace between these two factions.
What made green the color associated with Ireland is also the color of its landscapes. Ireland has a climate that preserves the natural green color of vegetation that surrounds its countryside. Ireland’s green-colored landscape is the reason why Ireland is identified as the Emerald Isle.
In addition, what made green the color associated with Ireland is the wearing of green during St. Patrick’s Day, a religious and cultural Irish holiday that falls on the 17th of March. St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is known to have used the shamrock or three-leafed clover to explain the Holy Trinity to pagans. This is why it became customary to wear green clothes, accessories, and shamrocks in celebrating St. Patrick’s Day since the 18th century. Since then, the shamrock has been used in emblems for many Irish organizations. The four-leafed clover, a genetic variation of the three-leafed clover, turned out to be a popular symbol which came to represent good luck. The four-leafed clover is a rare find and because of this, tradition suggests that it brings good luck to people who found it. The three leaves of the typical clover represent faith, hope, and love, and the rare fourth leaf represents luck.
Furthermore, Irish folklore with characters such as leprechauns and fairies are always pictured wearing green clothing, an additional response to the question what made green the color associated with Ireland.
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