Every year on March 17, we reach into our closets to pull out our favorite green outfits. You might even have a special clothing item you dust off for the occasion! But have you ever stopped to wonder why we wear green on St. Patrick’s Day? You know, besides avoiding being pinched by anyone per the playful tradition? (Although, come to think of it, it’s not entirely clear why we do that, either, is it?) If you’re curious about the answers, you’ve come to the right place.
Ironically, the massive celebration associated with St. Patrick’s Day didn’t actually start in Ireland, but right here in America, according to the History Channel. Irish folks took the religious holiday far more seriously, attending church and enjoying a modest feast afterward, with no shades of green added to their food, drink, or clothing. (Though, to be fair, they likely had enough greenery surrounding them with all that natural beauty blanketing the country.)
The color they associated with Irish pride was also originally blue — not green — until the Irish Rebellion of 1798, during which military commander Owen Roe O’Neill notably led his troops while flying a green flag with a golden harp on it. They were ultimately defeated by English general Oliver Cromwell, but the color scheme seemed to stick.
Helping the cause for green was a ballad written around the time, “The Wearing of the Green,” which referred to the ban of the color by the British. Here’s a sample of the lyrics:
“Oh, Paddy dear, did you hear the news that’s going ’round? The shamrock is forbid by law to grow on Irish ground Saint Patrick’s Day no more to keep, his color can’t be seen, for there’s a bloody law again’ the Wearing of the Green.”
Before the rebellion, however, Irish-born soldiers brought the color green over with them to America. They traded red coats for green on St. Patrick’s Day during a march through New York City in 1762 that was to be the first ever official St. Patrick’s Day parade and continues to be held each year to this day.
When the Great Famine hit Ireland in the mid-1800s and thousands came over to the United States and Canada, immigrants to the country embraced their native pride with celebrations that eventually became the huge holiday we all know and love.
It wouldn’t be until much later, however, that folks in Ireland and other parts of the world would begin donning their finest green duds and join in on the fun, too.
As for the pinching, tradition claims that leprechauns are blind to the color green, and therefore can’t see — and therefore pinch — anyone wearing it.
To make sure you fool them and to help you get in the St. Patty’s spirit, we’ve rounded up a few gorgeous green pieces you won’t want to pass up.
Keep reading for Woman’s World’s picks for the best green fashion picks and accessories you can still nab ahead of the big day.
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Where to buy: $159, Ann Taylor
This fringed jacket lends an easy pop of green to your ensemble when thrown over a tee or tank. It also just so happens to be super chic, what with its fringed hem, flap pockets, and waist-length cut.
Where to buy: $76.99 (Originally $129.99), Macy’s
If you really want to get in the spirit, try this spring-ready, tie-waist frock from DKNY. Not only will it cover you in head-to-toe green on the big day, ensuring no pinchy leprechauns come your way, you’ll want to wear it long after the holiday is over for its breezy, flatter-figuring silhouette — it’s even got side pockets!
Where to buy: $58, Kate Spade
If you’re not a big fan of green, but still want to show off your Irish pride, we like this subtle bangle from Kate Spade. Made from plated enamel, it features a hinged closure and an adorable spade charm at the center. It also has a lovely emerald shade that’s just right for St. Patty’s.
Where to buy: $59.99 (Originally $69), Modcloth
This St. Patrick’s Day, ditch your normal trousers in favor of these hunter green cropped pants. They have an elasticized waist for comfort and an low-maintenance fabric that can be thrown right into the wash.
Where to buy: $250, Nordstrom
This gorgeous green leather bag will serve you 365 days of the year, but especially on March 17. It’s got an adjustable strap, a turnlock flap closure, and interior zip pockets and card slots to house all your necessary odds and ends.
Where to buy: $39.50, Talbots
You don’t have to spend a fortune to get in on the celebration — this sweet scalloped tee from Talbots will set you back just $40. It’s got flattering, elbow-length sleeves and its made from 100 percent pima cotton.