by Precarious Yates
For years, I heard about wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day but didn’t know the significance beyond the fact that the Irish flag was 1/3 green. When I lived in Ireland, I saw how very verdant the land was. I mean, I didn’t understand the color green until I saw an Irish field under April sunshine.
It’s been nine years since I’ve lived in Ireland. It was only several months ago that I learned the real reason why we wear green on St. Patrick’s Day.
In 1798, inspired by the American Revolution and the French Revolution, a number of Irish men, led by Wolfe Tone and others, fought for freedom from an ever growing and oppressive British rule. The Irish were very often enslaved on their own land and treated as if they were less than human.
After the 1798 uprising, the British clamped down with even greater control. By 1803, it was considered an act of treason to wear green.
Green represented freedom from slavery, freedom from inhuman treatments, freedom from oppression.
This wasn’t the first time the Irish were enslaved. During St. Patrick’s time, raiders from what is now Great Britain captured a number of people from Ireland and enslaved them. Some of those who were captured included young women who were part of Patrick’s ministry team. The king who captured the women essentially turned them into sex slaves.
Patrick would have none of it.
Read Patrick’s scathing letter to the Coroticus’s soldiers HERE.
If wearing green would have sent the same sort of message to that king, Patrick would have done just that.
Today, there are people who are equally oppressed, enslaved and treated as if they are less than human. These people don’t live within a single nation, but in almost every nation on this earth. Modern slavery is still at epidemic proportions. Brick factories in India. Brothels in Brazil with way too many underage and unpaid workers. Child soldiers in Africa. Forced prostitutes in Amsterdam. Unpaid illegal immigrants who are farm workers in Florida.
Slavery is rampant all over God’s green earth.
So today, while you wear green, don’t just wear it to stand with the oppressed Irish of yesteryear. Wear it to stand, like many a valiant Irishman and woman, with those who are oppressed and enslaved across the globe. Wear it to remind yourself to help these people in whatever way you can. Volunteer for an organization. Join a prayer group (I’ve seen prayer change too many things to ignore the amazing power it has). Give $5 or $5000 (whatever you can afford). Open your eyes and ears to those around you: you may encounter young girls or boys trapped in slavery and can help them. You can call the anti-trafficking phone numbers:
We may not have a day dedicated to us, but we can still inspire others like St. Patrick inspires us. We can still change the lives of others for the better. No one on earth may ever know what you and I do. But heaven knows.
About the Author:
Precarious Yates has lived in 8 different states of the Union and 3 different countries, but currently lives in Texas with her husband, her daughter and their big dogs. When she’s not writing, she enjoys music, teaching, playing on jungle gyms, praying and reading. She holds a Masters in the art of making tea and coffee and a PhD in Slinky® disentangling.