16 Mar 2015

March 17th: Maybe It’s Easy, Bein’ Green

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St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th, is the day that for some reason you’re supposed to wear a green item of clothing, otherwise you risk being pinched! Why is that? What is it about green that’s deemed so necessary to wear on St. Patrick’s Day? According to the Christian Science Monitor, the reason is as follows:

St. Patrick’s revelers thought wearing green made one invisible to leprechauns…who would pinch anyone they could see (anyone not wearing green). People began pinching those who didn’t wear green as a reminder that leprechauns would sneak up and pinch green-abstainers.

In addition, green is associated with St. Patrick’s Day because:

  • Ireland’s tri-color flag includes green.
  • Irish revolutionary groups – throughout history – have used green in their flags.
  • Ireland’s lush vegetation landscape earned it the title of the “Emerald Isle.”
  • Green is the color of the shamrock, the three-leaf clover symbol of Ireland. (The four-leaf clover we all hear about for St. Patrick’s Day is a sign of extra good luck because of its rarity – about 1/10,000.)
  • Green is the color of spring, and March 17th is just on the cusp of the spring equinox.

In the United States, the focus of green for St. Patrick’s Day is for one day, in celebration of a particular cultural history. At the same time, green is used, and has been used, as a symbol for other aspects of life. Here are some of the ideas that green represents.

#1) Environmentalism. “Green” is now synonymous with “good for the environment” due to its association with nature. Green tech, green political parties, green bulbs, green-friendly – all of these “go green” terms have become commonplace.

#2) Otherworlds.  Green can symbolize the triumph of good over evil in the fantasy world. Peter Pan, Lord of the Rings, Legacy of Kain (“The Lost Worlds”) – they all use green as a foremost shade in their costuming and branding.

#3) War. Army uniforms reflect a need to camouflage, and green makes sense in areas of great forests or other vegetation.  Army uniforms have been green as far back as Greek times, but largely became popular in Europe and the United States in the 20th century. At the same time, a dark-green uniform has become equated with armies in general, no matter if the country’s chosen military uniform is khaki, blue, or red.

#4) Sense of Calm & Beauty. Think of a green turquoise stone, a jade or an emerald. What springs to mind? Depth, emotional wholeness, and truth. Green somehow emits and invites those feelings, and as such, green stone values are a result of the color’s associated feelings.

Green spans the gamut of war, fairytales, calm, beauty, and nature. Its associations are vast, depending on the context and materials involved. What do you associate with when you think of green? This coming St. Patrick’s Day at Rockaway Care Center, we’ll have a gathering to celebrate Irish culture, and with it, the color green. Ask around – see what other people’s minds drift to when they think of green.

In doing so, think of Muppet Show star Kermit the Frog and his song “It’s not easy, bein’ green. ” Kermit starts out with remorse about how green blends in amorphously with other colors, and therefore he doesn’t really stand out as anything special. But by the end of the song, Kermit has a turnaround for the positive about the advantages of green, ultimately appreciating his lot in life for the good.  Likewise, on St. Patrick’s Day, at Rockaway Care Center we can use the discussion about green as a form of understanding where people are coming from by hearing how their associations with green.  In doing so, we can appreciate people’s diversity by focusing on the color green’s vast array of meanings. Just don’t get pinched in the process!


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