There are few holidays that celebrate one colour more than Saint Patrick’s Day. Every year on March 17th, the world seems to glow green as shamrocks, leprechauns and four-leaf clovers mark the celebration. Ireland, known as the Emerald Isle, is a nation of rolling hills and lush landscapes that only further highlight the dominance of green in Irish life. Interestingly, blue was the traditional colour of Ireland and Saint Patrick. Even today, Saint Patrick’s blue (a sky blue) and Presidential Blue (a dark shade) are the official colours of the Government of Ireland. The original Ireland flag as well as the current Coat of Arms and the Standard of the President of Ireland feature a gold Irish harp on a Saint Patrick’s blue background. There are plenty of theories of how green took over but most agree that Saint Patrick used shamrocks to explain the Holy Trinity to Irish pagans which forever linked wearing the green symbol to the holiday. Hundreds of years later, Saint Patrick’s Day is a celebration bathed in shades of bright green and unbridled merriment.
For over 40 years, Chicago has been famous for dying the Chicago River a vivid shade of Emerald Isle green for their St. Patrick’s Day Parade celebrations. Intriguingly, the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Union (who began the tradition) don’t use green dye. In a feat of colour theory and/or magic, orange dye is mixed with the river water to create that famous green hue. I have heard that recipe for the non-toxic orange dye is a closely guarded secret within the Plumbers Union which certainly explains why only Chicago has really succeeded in creating a green that brilliant. Wishing you a wonderful Saint Patrick’s Day celebration full of colour!