On the 17th March this week it is, of course, St Patrick’s day. The colour green is associated with this day and with the Irish in general. Indeed, as the above picture shows, in Chicago (where there is large Irish contingent) they dye the river green ever year in celebration. However, originally the colour associated with St Patrick was blue. In Irish mythology, the sovereignty of Ireland was represented as a blue robe. St Patrick is said to have used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to the pre-christian Irish. Wearing a shamrock in your lapel became associated with celebrating St Patrick. In 1798 Irish soldiers adoptedgreen uniforms on March 17 to make a political statement.

When asked which colour is associated with being lucky I often respond with “green”. Green is associated with the Irish and there is a phrase “the luck of the irish”. However, Irish folklore holds that green is the favourite colour of the faeries; they are likely to steal people, especially children, who wear too much of the colour. So, for some Irish at least, green is an unlucky colour. In any event, even if green is associated with good luck in large parts of the western world it is not an idea that is common around the world – in China, for example, it is red that is associated with good luck.

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