St. Patrick’s Blue? Who Knew?
My heritage is Italian-Irish and yes, in my universe, the Italian always came first, just the way my imperious father preferred it. My very Irish mother never seemed to have the desire or ambition to change that, with one exception; my name.
My sisters are both named after Italian relatives, my mother insisted on choosing my name, something with a bit of Irish to it. So, Patricia it was. However my parents split over the middle name and settled on Jeanne. I know what you’re thinking. But no, it’s not Jeanne, like good ‘ole Jeanne. My middle name is correctly pronounced as Zh-ahn, the fancy-pants French pronunciation and no I’m not kidding.
However, whenever I got in trouble (hard to believe-huh?), my mom seemed to forget that as she screamed the three name admonishment that strikes fear into every kid.
While we were growing up odds were pretty good that we’d be eating pasta at least once a week and on any given day you were more likely to find a pot of marinara sauce on the stove than a skillet of bangers & mash.
In any case, St. Patrick is my patron saint (if you’re Catholic, Italian, Irish or just well-read you know what that means) so all of my life St. Patrick’s Day was a big day. Mom always made a green cake and sometimes green biscuits and always- Irish Soda Bread. I’d get cards and presents, just like it was my birthday. One year we even had a blizzard on St. Patrick’s Day and school was cancelled. Now that was a day to celebrate!
Today, I learned something I never knew about St. Patrick and the proverbial “wearin’-‘O-the-green”. My friend Alan Helgeson told me he had read that green was not the official color of St. Patrick. In a green rage, (it was actually more of a lime-colored indifference) I forced him to prove it! He did by bringing me the article he read. I checked several other sources and indeed he was correct.
St. Patrick’s color according to historians, was blue not green. Ancient flags still carry the color as does the Irish Presidential Standard (an Irish harp on a blue background). Legend had it that St. Patrick used the clover to teach the Holy Trinity and at some point it became a symbol of Irish nationalism. So was born the phrase, “the wearin’ of the green” as people started wearing clovers or shamrocks on their lapels.
Somehow between the shamrock legend and reality, plus the lushness of the Irish countryside, blue was replaced by green and St. Patrick’s Day morphed into a very green-themed holiday. So if you wear blue this St. Patrick’s Day and someone tries to pinch you for not wearing green, either tell them this story or kick them right in their Celtic cahones!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
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