THE COLOR OF GREEN
When I was a girl, my favorite color was green. I always liked Saint Patrick's Day because that was the only day I could go to school dressed in green clothing from head to foot without looking completely conspicuous. My typical Saint Patrick's Day outfit consisted of a light green knit top with scoop neck and cap sleeves, green flare-leg corduroy jeans, a bright green hooded jacket, olive green canvas sneakers, and I even had a green shamrock medallion to wear around my neck. The other kids would take one look at me and say, "You must be Irish!" and I would reply, "Nope, I just like green."
Of course, nowadays the term "Think Green" brings to mind the Green Party and green politics, both of which are based on ecological and environmental issues and the connections between individuals, society, and nature. In the 1970's, being "green" wasn't as politically correct as it is these days, although even way back then as a kid I was concerned about the environment.
However, in this article I'm referring simply to green as a color related to Saint Patrick's Day. Green is associated with this holiday because it is the color of Ireland ("the Emerald Isle") and Ireland's old green flag. The color green is also related to nature, spring, and the shamrock. In addition, the green color symbolizes hope, referring back to a time when Ireland was not free.
Saint Patrick’s Day
Saint Patrick's Day, March 17th, is a national Irish holiday honoring Saint Patrick, the missionary credited with converting all the people of Ireland to Christianity in the 5th century. St. Patrick’s Day is the one national holiday that is celebrated in more countries around the world than any other. It seems like everyone wants to be Irish! However, St. Patrick's Day was originally considered to be a holy day in Ireland and there were no parades or festivities, and no wearin’ o’ the green. At one time, green was actually considered to be an unlucky color!
Consequently, the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland always paled in comparison to other places. Then in 1996, a group of creative individuals set out to change the perception of St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland and start a whole new tradition. This St. Patrick’s Day Festival has since grown to become the largest annual celebration of Irishness anywhere in the world. St. Patrick’s Festival is a uniquely Irish carnival of music, street theatre, fire and fireworks, dance, pageants and parades.
The first American celebration of Saint Patrick's Day was in Boston, Massachusetts in 1737. School children started the tradition of pinching classmates who don't wear green on this holiday.
An Irish Blessing
"May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow, and may trouble avoid you wherever you go."
Shamrock is the common name for any one of several unrelated herbaceous plants with trifoliate leaves. White clover was the original shamrock of Ireland. Saint Patrick used the shamrock leaf to symbolize the Trinity (Father/Son/Holy Spirit). A shamrock leaf is worn on March 17th to commemorate Saint Patrick's Day. (By the way, finding a four-leaf clover on St. Patrick's Day is double the good luck it usually is.)
Did You Know…?
Plants are green because their leaves contain a substance called chlorophyll. Chlorophyll enables plants to carry on photosynthesis, a process by which plants use the sun's energy to create their own food (carbohydrates) out of carbon dioxide and water. Chlorophyll is a green pigment that masks the other colors and absorbs light in the red and blue-violet portions of the visible spectrum. The green light is not absorbed; it is reflected, and this is what gives plants their characteristic color. As the chlorophyll amount decreases in preparation for winter, the other colors become evident, causing a dramatic change in the appearance of autumn leaves.
Shades of Green
Tints and shades of green include the following: apple-green, aquamarine, avocado, celadon, celery-green, chartreuse, beryl-green, blue-green, bottle-green, emerald, forest-green, grass-green, holly-green, ivy-green, jade, jungle-green, Kelly green, lime, meadow-green, mint-green, moss-green, olive-green, Paris green, pea-green, pine-green, sage, sea-green, shamrock-green, spinach-green, spring-green, spruce, teal, and yellow-green. It is said that there are 40 shades of green in Ireland. I listed 33 different kinds of green. Can you think of any more?
Mini-Kissed Shamrock Cookies
1 package (22.3 oz.) golden sugar cookie mix
Heat oven to 350º F. Combine cookie mix and cocoa in large bowl. Add oil, eggs and water; mix well with spoon. Dough will clump together and be easy to handle. Shape dough into balls, using about one level teaspoon of dough for each ball. Cluster four balls together on ungreased cookie sheet to form shamrock; flatten each leaf slightly. Shape one ball into stem shape and tuck under bottom of leaves. Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until set. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Outline shamrock and stem with shamrock frosting. Place a small amount of frosting in center of cookie. Press Mini Kiss in center. Makes about 30 cookies.
Combine 1 tbsp. softened butter, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tbsp. hot milk or light cream, 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, and 2 or 3 drops of green food color. Mix until smooth.
The color green is cool and serene.
Write your own poem about the color green, or any other color that you like. For ideas, read the colorful classic, HAILSTONES AND HALIBUT BONES: ADVENTURES IN COLOR, by Mary O'Neill.
I also recommend THE EARTH IS PAINTED GREEN: A GARDEN OF POEMS ABOUT OUR PLANET, edited by Barbara Brenner. It's a celebration of our green planet *Earth* in a collection of poetry by award-winning writers, with lush watercolor illustrations. This beautiful book is sure to heighten any child's appreciation of the green world around us.
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