This March 17, you’re likely to see lots of green, but did you know there are actually several St. Patrick’s Day colors? Each color has its own meaning, which is deeply rooted in Irish history.
Green is by far the most popular of the St. Patrick’s colors. However, the original color associated with the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick, was blue!
Keep reading to learn the meanings of all the St. Patrick’s Day colors and how they came to be associated with this holiday.
Plus, make sure to get a free St. Patrick’s Day coloring page printable at the bottom of this post. It’s a fun activity to celebrate this day that the kids will love!
The importance of colors
Colors have a long history of conveying special meanings, messages, ideas and emotions. These messages can appear in bouquets of flowers, the television we watch, the decor of places we visit, the holidays we celebrate, and more!
In the 19th century, people would communicate with floriography which is also known as the language of flowers. They understood the importance of colors and would send coded flower arrangements.
In these flower arrangements each variety and color of flowers used had special meanings that the recipients would decipher using a floral dictionary.
Colors are also used to evoke emotions by filmmakers, artists, advertisers, and designers. Every color of the rainbow is thought to illicit a certain emotion and is therefore carefully chosen in art and advertising.
The importance of colors isn’t limited to floriography, advertising and art. Colors also hold special importance on holidays, and the St. Patrick’s Day colors are no exception.
What are the St. Patrick’s Day colors
If you’re out celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this year, you’re likely to see the majority of people celebrating dressed in green. This is because the color green is one of the seven symbols of St. Patrick’s Day.
In addition to St. Patrick’s Day being represented by symbols, there are also four St. Patrick’s Day colors with special meaning this time of year.
The four St. Patrick’s Day colors are green, blue, orange and white. Three of these St. Patrick’s colors are even appear as colors of the Irish flag (green, white and orange).
While green is the color most frequently associated with the holiday the other St. Patrick’s colors still have special meanings.
As St. Patrick’s Day is a celebration of both Saint Patrick and Ireland, some of the St. Patrick’s Day colors tie directly to the patron saint, while others are more representative of Ireland itself.
St. Patrick’s blue color meaning
In modern images of Saint Patrick, the patron saint and apostle of Ireland is shown dressed in green.
However, the earliest image of Saint Patrick shows him wearing blue robes. In this portrait, Saint Patrick is meeting the High King of Ireland, who is dressed in red.
The image appears in Legenda Aurea, a 13th century French manuscript by Jacobus de Voragine. This manuscript contains stories of many saints, including Saint Patrick.
While this is the earliest example of Saint Patrick in blue, the color blue’s connection to Saint Patrick extends further than the 13th century.
In 1783, King George III, King of Great Britain and Ireland established an order of chivalry called The Most Illustrious Order of Saint Patrick. The color chosen to represent The Order of Saint Patrick was a sky blue named St. Patrick’s blue.
Another order of chivalry called The Most Noble Order of the Garter was represented by a darker blue, so St. Patrick’s blue was chosen to differentiate The Order of Saint Patrick from The Order of The Garter.
The meaning of the color blue in Ireland
In addition to St. Patrick’s Day blue being the color of The Order of Saint Patrick, and the color in which this patron saint was first depicted, the meaning of the color blue is also tied to English rule in Ireland.
King Henry VIII of England assumed the throne in 1509. He tightened his control on Ireland in 1542 when the Irish Parliament passed the Crown of Ireland Act.
This act created the title “King of Ireland” for Henry VIII (who previously ruled as “Lord of Ireland”) and all of his successors. Ireland also changed from the “Lordship of Ireland” to the “Kingdom of Ireland”.
Henry VIII marked this occasion with a coat of arms for Ireland that used the color blue. It featured a blue background with a gold harp, which has long been a symbol of Ireland.
The design of a blue background with a golden harp can still be seen in Ireland on the presidential standard flag and the Constitution of Ireland.
The meaning of the color green
In the 18th century, tension between the British crown and the Irish Nationalists was growing. As the color blue represented the British, the color had become tainted.
This prompted a switch in favor from the color blue to green in Ireland.
Irish Nationalists were trying to distance themselves from the crown. They believed Ireland should be a sovereign entity and not under English rule.
During the Irish Rebellion of 1798, the color green became a symbol of Irish Nationalism. Irish Nationalists wore green uniforms, and Irish citizens wore green ribbons and shamrocks on their lapels to show Irish loyalty and pride.
The color blue began to fade away, and green became the color associated with Irish pride and Ireland. Images of Saint Patrick began to depict the patron saint wearing green instead of blue.
St. Patrick’s green color meaning
Irish pride and loyalty are not the only reasons you’ll see green on St. Patrick’s Day. The color green also represents Saint Patrick and the island of Ireland. It even has a special place in mythology about leprechauns.
The meaning of the color green has been tied to Saint Patrick since he came to Ireland in the 5th century as a missionary to evangelize the Irish.
During this time, he used shamrocks as a teaching tool, assigning religious meaning to each of its three leaves. The shamrock leaves represented The Father, The Son and The Holy Sprit.
The use of the shamrock in his Christian teachings linked not only the shamrock, but also the color green, to the patron saint. In images of Saint Patrick, he is often seen holding a green shamrock in one hand and a golden staff called the Bachal Isu in the other.
The meaning of the color green is also tied to the entire island of Ireland, which is often referred to as the Emerald Isle. The first instance of Ireland being called the Emerald Isle dates back to a poem called When Erin First Rose written in 1795 by William Drennan.
In leprechaun folklore, the color green is magical. It’s believed that if a person wears St. Patrick’s green, it will make them invisible to leprechauns. This is a good thing, because lore says leprechauns pinch anyone they can see.
If you’re interested in learning more about leprechauns, make sure to check out these leprechaun facts.
Irish flag colors meaning
Green also has special meaning as one of the colors of the Irish flag. This tricolor flag has three pales of equal size in the colors green, white and orange. The green pale on the Irish flag goes next to the flagstaff.
Each of the Irish flag colors have religious symbolism. Green represents the dominant Catholic population in Ireland, orange represents the Protestant minority and white represents hope for lasting peace between the two.
The color orange was chosen to represent the Protestants because they were supporters of King William III of England, Ireland and Scotland, also known as William of Orange. As a staunch Protestant himself, he became an important Protestant figure.
The word “Orange” in his title refers not to a color, but to a location. William of Orange was born as the Prince of Orange, a principality located in what is now southern France.
The National Flag of Ireland (often referred to as the Irish Tricolor) was first flown on March of 1848. It was also flown again at the General Post Office (GPO) in Dublin during the Easter Rising of 1916.
After this, the Irish Tricolor was adopted as the flag of the Irish Free State in 1922. It was then confirmed as the official flag of Ireland in the 1937 Constitution of Ireland.
White and orange color meanings on St. Patrick’s Day
Many of the St. Patrick’s Day colors and symbols seen on March 17th celebrate more than just Saint Patrick. After all, St. Patrick’s Day isn’t just about the patron saint, it’s also about Irish pride.
While you won’t likely see white and orange on St. Patrick’s Day in the same frequency that you’ll see green during this holiday celebration, orange and white are still important St. Patrick’s Day colors.
You’ll most likely see green, orange and white together on the Irish flag, as the Irish flag colors are an important symbol of hope for peace and a unity between the people of Ireland.
Wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day
It’s no secret that the most popular of St. Patrick’s Day colors is green. So go ahead and wear St. Patrick’s Day green this March 17th!
No matter why you choose to wear green, to escape pinching, to be invisible to leprechauns, to show Irish loyalty and pride, to honor the religious history of Ireland, as an homage to the Emerald Isle, or just for fun, you certainly won’t be alone.
With all these St. Patricks green color meanings, you’ll see the hue in more than just clothing. It appears frequently in pints of beer, holiday decorations, and even fills the Chicago river, which as been dyed green since 1962.
It is present in images of leprechauns and Saint Patrick. You’ll see it during St. Patrick’s Day parades where people wear shamrocks wave Irish flags.
Now that you know the history of wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day, you can wear it with pride!
How to celebrate the St. Patrick’s Day colors
It’s time to celebrate the St. Patrick’s Day colors now that you understand their meanings. The most obvious way to celebrate is by wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day, but below we’ve got a few more suggestions.
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- See which St. Patrick’s Day colors you can locate in our free St. Patrick’s Day word search.
- Go out to bar and ask your bartender if they’re serving green beer this St. Paddy’s Day. Historically, green beer used to be made with by adding a drop of Wash Blue laundry detergent to the beer. Fortunately today it’s made with non-toxic food coloring!
- Get some fun shamrock window stickers to put on your windows this year.
- See which of the St. Patrick’s Day colors you can unscramble in our St. Patrick’s Day word scramble printable.
- Check out these St. Patrick’s Day quotes and graphics. Many of the messages are on background with St. Patrick’s colors!
- Drink your coffee out of an Irish flag mug now that you know the colors of the Irish flag meanings.
- Click here to get a free St. Patrick’s Day coloring page printable (or you can stroll to the bottom of this post and print it from the project card). You can either give it to your children, or be like a kid again and color it yourself!
- Try making some of the St Patrick’s crafts and St Patrick’s recipes below.
St. Patrick’s Day crafts using St. Patrick’s colors
Did you enjoy learning about St. Patrick’s colors? Here are some DIY crafts for St. Patrick’s Day that use green, white, orange and blue for you to enjoy!
- Leprechaun hat centerpiece – Combine your love of flowers with your excitement about St. Patrick’s Day in this DIY table decor.
- St. Patrick’s Day banner – Use all of the St. Patrick’s Day colors to make this banner decoration.
- Old Irish blessing printable – Get a free printable Irish blessing in green lettering to display in your home.
- St. Patrick’s Day door wreath – This DIY door swag features a leprechaun hat and flowers to welcome your guests in style.
Try these St. Patrick’s Day recipes
If you liked learning the history of St. Patrick’s Day colors, try making one of these delicious recipes for St. Patrick’s Day below to celebrate.
- Leprechaun hat cookies – If you’re leaning into the leprechaun mythology this holiday, try making these leprechaun hat cookies (pictured above). This s’mores flavored dessert uses girl scout cookies, which are easy to find this time of year!
- Corned beef and cabbage – Learn about the history of corned beef and cabbage and why it’s a popular St. Patrick’s Day meal while getting an easy slow cooker corned beef and cabbage recipe.
- Bailey’s truffles – These truffles made with Bailey’s Irish cream are decadent and delicious. Top them with shamrock sprinkles for St. Paddys!
- Lucky Charms snack mix – Get out your green M&Ms to make this delicious snack that is equal parts sweet and salty.
- Bailey’s Irish cream – If you’re a fan of Bailey’s, try making a mudslide, an international incident martini or an after 8 cocktail.
- Irish coffee – Can’t decide between coffee and a cocktail? You don’t have to with an Irish coffee!
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Looking for more fact-based posts?
If you enjoyed learning the meaning of the color orange, green, white and blue for St. Patrick’s Day, be sure to also check out these other holiday trivia posts to learn more fun facts about some of your favorite things!
- Thanksgiving symbols – Find out why cranberry sauce and turkey are such important Thanksgiving dinner items. Head to the post to learn the history of the symbols of Thanksgiving.
- Valentine’s Day symbols – Learn about the items that symbolize Valentine’s Day, like Cupid, hearts, roses, lovebirds, Valentine’s Day cards and love knots.
- Mardi Gras Symbols – Get a list of Fat Tuesday facts and learn why certain items are representative of Mardi Gras.
- Samhain traditions – Ever wonder where we got our Halloween traditions like wearing Halloween costumes, trick or treating or carving pumpkins? Learn the history of Samhain to find out!
- Chinese Zodiac – The Chinese Zodiac is made up of 12 animal signs (ie. year of the rabbit, year of the tiger, year of the ox, etc) which each have the distinct qualities and traits. Read the post to find out more!
Pin this post on the four St. Patrick’s Day colors for later
Would you like a reminder of this post explaining the St. Patrick’s colors, their meanings and history? Just pin this image to one of your trivia boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.
Using this print function on this card will make a St. Patrick's Day printable coloring page that fills about 3/4 of an 8 x 11 sheet of paper. To fill the entire page, choose "fit to page" on your printer if you have this setting, or use the link in the post above and print using the browser print feature. As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Using this print function on this card will make a St. Patrick's Day printable coloring page that fills about 3/4 of an 8 x 11 sheet of paper.
To fill the entire page, choose "fit to page" on your printer if you have this setting, or use the link in the post above and print using the browser print feature.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Since graduating from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Jess has been living and working in Los Angeles, CA. She is a freelance writer, specializing in content related to fashion, food and drink and film industry topics. Find out more about Jess here.
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