Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Are you wearing green today?  The "Wearing of the Green"  is a song about showing cultural pride but also signfies the hardships of the Irish at home and abroad.

Inspired by the American Revolution, Irish Catholics fed up with Protestant rule attempted a revolution in 1798.  Wearing green may have been a sign of opposition against the "Orange Order," a protestant group that was loyal to England.  Green is the opposite of orange on the color wheel, but also the color of the shamrock, associated with St. Patrick.

In 1798 wearing green would have been an act of defiance, and wearing it on St. Patrick's Day would have been an especially nationalistic act.  For immigrants to the U.S. in the late Nineteenth Century, celebrating St. Patrick's Day and wearing green became symbolic of ethnic pride for a downtrodden group.

Soon the ethnic pride of the Irish made everyone without their own ethnic holiday (i.e., everyone!) honorary Irish.  Check out Judy Garland singing "Wearing o' the green."

For the famous "Danny Boy," follow this link to the Historic American Sheet Music Collection at Duke University.  The tune may have been Irish but the words to this 1913 version were written by an Englishman and popularized in the United States.

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