Should St.Patrick’s Day be Blue?


It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why St. Patrick’s Day is green. We all know of the Emerald Isle, Shamrock, and four-leaf clover. However, it does take a political scientist to know why it should be blue.

In The Wearing of the Green: A History of St. Patrick’s Day Mike Cronin and Daryl Adair argue that individuals’ romanticism and businesses’ commercialization of St. Patrick’s Day tend to distract the general public from the colour coded political history of the anniversary.

Henry the VIII claimed kingship of Ireland in the 16th century.1 In doing so, Ireland became an extension of England and dawned a coat of arms that included a golden harp floating on a blue background.2 This tradition continued into the 18th century with King George III creating the Order of St. Patrick.3 This Order was associated with a lighter shade of blue.4

Over the years the English blue muddied and turned into a sour green as The Order of St. Patrick disintegrated and the divide between the Irish and English widened.5

The Irish began to use green and St. Patrick’s shamrock as a symbol “of identity and rebellion,” writes Shaylyn Esposit of

Interestingly, Timothy McMahon, Vice President of the American Conference for Irish Studies, argues a green flag was first used for nationalist purposes by Irish military commander Owen Roe O’Neill.7 The rebellion was a group of catholic landowners and bishops who wanted to reclaim land from the English Crown that had situated a plantation on the northern side of Ireland.7

Despite a tumultuous political history, whether blue or green, the Irish share their luck with us on March 17th through face paint, floats, and a reason to celebrate.




Photo by Irene Dávila on Unsplash