Why Some Wear Orange on St. Patrick's Day (Facts) (2024)

We getcountlessemails every year asking can you wear orange on St. Patrick’s Day.

The honest answer is you can do whatever you like, but most people do tend to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day.

However, if you’d like to knowwhysome people wear orange on St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland and elsewhere, you’ll find all you need to know below.

Table of Contents

Some quick-need-to-knows about wearing orange on St Patrick’s Day

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Before we get into is it OK to wear orange on St. Patrick’s Day, lets get you up-to-speed quickly:

1. It’s a tradition that dates back to the 17th century

When the Protestant William of Orange conquered the Catholic James II at the Battle of the Boyne, his colour, orange, would be immortalised for centuries.

2. It all boils down to religion

The colour orange is symbolic of the Protestant community and their heritage while the colour green on the Irish flag represents the Catholic community.

3. My two cents

We tend to get emails from people living outside of Ireland asking ‘Can you wear orange on St. Patrick’s Day?’. Personally, I wouldn’t, as I associate the colour green with St. Patrick. You can of course do whatever makes you happy!

Why some people wear orange on St. Patrick’s Day

Now that we have the need-to-knows out of the way, lets go into more of the detail around wearing orange on St. Patrick’s Day.

It all comes back to William of Orange and then the partition of Ireland in 1921.

It all begins with William of Orange

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The colour orange has been closely tied to Ireland’s Protestant community since way back in 1690.

It was then that William of Orange (the King of England, Scotland and Ireland) defeated the Roman Catholic King James II in what is known as the Battle of the Boyne.

The ‘Orange’ in his name is actually a reference to the ‘Principality of Orange’ a feudal state in the South of France.

Since his victory in the Battle of the Boyne, William of Orange has been an iconic figure within Protestant culture, as has the colour orange.

It continues with the partition of Ireland

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Photos via Shutterstock

If you’ve read our guide to the differences between Ireland vs Northern Ireland, you’ll be aware that they are two countries on the one island.

The partition has been in place since May of 1921 when the UK’s Government of Ireland Act 1920 came into play.

The six counties of the newly formed Northern Ireland had a unionist majority who wanted to remain in the United Kingdom.

Those that wished to remain were also generallyfrom the Protestant descendants of colonists from Britain.

The Irish flag shows both colours

Why Some Wear Orange on St. Patrick's Day (Facts) (5)

Photos via Shutterstock

A vertical tricolour of green (at the hoist), white and orange, the Irish flag was created in 1848 and was intended to symbolise the inclusion and hoped-for union between Roman Catholics (symbolised by green) and Protestants (symbolised by orange).

When presented to him, Irish nationalist Thomas Francis Meagher said “The white in the centre signifies a lasting truce between Orange and Green and I trust that beneath its folds the hands of Irish Protestants and Irish Catholics may be clasped in generous and heroic brotherhood”.

St Patrick himself wore blue, so you can wear what you want

Why Some Wear Orange on St. Patrick's Day (Facts) (6)

Funnily enough, when St. Patrick’s Day was first recognised in Ireland the original colour associated with the festivities was the patron saint’s signature shade of blue. It wouldn’t change to green until years later.

But don’t forget that when St Patrick was born in the 4th century, there was no Catholic/Protestant divide. Hence why St Patrick is able to be celebrated, no matter what colour you wear.

FAQs about the St. Patrick’s Day orange connection

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Is wearing orange on St. Patrick’s Day offensive?’ to ‘Where does blue come into it?’.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below. Here are some related reads you should find interesting:

  • 73 Funny St. Patrick’s Day Jokes For Adults And Kids
  • The Best Irish Songs And The Best Irish Films Of All Time For Paddy’s Day
  • 8 Ways That We Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day In Ireland
  • The Most Notable St. Patrick’s Day Traditions In Ireland
  • 17 Tasty St. Patrick’s Day co*cktails To Whip Up At Home
  • How To Say Happy St. Patrick’s Day In Irish
  • 5 St. Patrick’s Day Prayers And Blessings For 2024
  • 17 Surprising Fact’s About St. Patrick’ Day
  • 33 Interesting Facts About Ireland

What does orange mean on St. Patrick’s Day?

The colour orange in the Irish flag represents Ireland’s Protestant community. Some people may choose to wear orange on March 17th to celebrate both St. Patrick and their heritage.

Can you wear orange on St. Patty’s Day?

Yes. It’s far more offensive to call it ‘St. Patty’s Day’ than it is to wearing orange on St. Patrick’s Day. Green is more widely associated with the day globally, however.

Is orange a St. Patricks Day color?

Although green is the main colour that’s associated with March 17th, some people will wear orange on St. Patrick’s Day either 1, to celebrate their Protestant heritage along with Ireland’s Patron Saint or 1, because they have no green clothes.

What color should you not wear on St. Patrick’s Day?

Green is the color most commonly worn on March 17th. While there are certain parts of Ireland where I personally wouldn’t wear orange on St. Patrick’s Day, there likely won’t be an issue outside of Ireland if you do.

Why Some Wear Orange on St. Patrick's Day (Facts) (7)

Keith O'Hara

Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 34 years and has spent most of the last 10 years creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries. Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.

Why Some Wear Orange on St. Patrick's Day (Facts) (2024)

FAQs

Why Some Wear Orange on St. Patrick's Day (Facts)? ›

This stems from William of Orange, the Protestant king who overthrew the Roman Catholic King James II. Even though Orange was a place, the Protestants used the color orange to show their loyalty.

Why do people wear orange on St Patricks Day? ›

While the Irish Catholic tradition is associated with the color green, Protestants associate with the color orange because of William of Orange, the Protestant king who overthrew Roman Catholic King James the second in the Glorious Revolution.

What does orange mean to the Irish? ›

The Irish flag is three blocks of color—green, white, and orange. Green represents the Catholics who rebelled against protestant England. Orange, on the other hand, represents Protestants—who do not venerate saints. The white block symbolizes peace between the two factions.

Is it OK to wear orange in Ireland? ›

It is a very simple question and I will give a very simple answer. Orange clothes like any other types of colors are freely worn here. We do not discriminate against colors.

What color to wear on St Patrick's Day? ›

Dressing in green on St. Patrick's can trace its roots to leprechaun legends, as well as a sign of Irish defiance. Each year on St. Patrick's Day, tens of thousands of Americans add green to their outfits, even if they can't trace their ancestry back to the Emerald Isle.

What does wearing orange mean? ›

Gun violence prevention advocates and organizations nationwide have taken up the color orange as the color of gun violence awareness and the first Friday in June is now considered National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

Are you allowed to wear orange on St Patrick's Day? ›

You can wear what you like on St Patrick's Day. Green is not obligatory, on that day or any other. Don't forget that orange is one of our national colours, as it is on the tricolour - signifying peace between the two traditions.

Why do the Orange Order march? ›

The Twelfth of July parades, also known as the Orange Order parades or Orangemen's Day, are annual events held in Northern Ireland on the 12th of July. These parades commemorate the victory of Protestant King William of Orange over Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

Who were the orange in Ireland? ›

The Orangemen, or the Orange Order, is a Loyalist/Unionist Protestant organization. They are, first and foremost, opposed to a united Ireland and would prefer that Northern Ireland remain part of the United Kingdom. They are also staunchly Protestant, sometimes to the extreme of anti-Catholic.

What is the history of the orange Marches? ›

Its name is a tribute to the Dutch-born Protestant king William of Orange, who defeated Catholic king James II in the Williamite–Jacobite War (1689–1691). The Order is best known for its yearly marches, the biggest of which are held on or around 12 July (The Twelfth), a public holiday in Northern Ireland.

Who should wear orange? ›

Orange is best left to those with warm skin tones – Autumns and Springs. However, orange color combinations can be used for just about anyone in small doses.

What do you wear on St Patrick's Day? ›

TODAY'S TRADITIONS

Leprechauns are actually one reason you're supposed to wear green on St. Patrick's Day—or risk getting pinched!

Is it OK to wear green in Ireland? ›

A word to the wise, Irish people are rarely seen in head-to-toe green as it was traditionally seen as bad luck! Irish folklore tells us it attracts the Good People (fairies). People wearing all green are in danger of being spirited away! A good incentive to keep it stylish if ever there was any.

Why is it St Patrick's Day? ›

Patrick's Day is the feast day of St. Patrick, a patron saint of Ireland. Originally celebrated with religious feasts and services, St. Patrick's Day became a secular celebration of Irish culture when it reached the United States alongside Irish immigrants.

When was St. Patrick born and died? ›

St. Patrick of Ireland is one of the world's most popular saints. Apostle of Ireland, born at Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton, in Scotland, in the year 387; died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland, 17 March, 461.

Why do people pinch you on St Patricks Day if you dont wear green? ›

According to the tradition, if you are not wearing green and therefore visible to the leprechauns, a leprechaun may wind up pinching you. From there, people began pinching those not wearing green as a painful reminder of what a leprechaun would do to them should they happen upon one.

What does the orange and the green mean? ›

"The Orange and the Green" or "The Biggest Mix-Up" is a humorous Irish folk song about a man whose father was a Protestant ("Orange") and whose mother was a Catholic ("Green"). It describes the man's trials as the product of religious intermarriage and how "mixed up" he became as a result of such an upbringing.

What is the color code for St Patrick's Day orange? ›

The official Pantone color designations for the green and orange colors are PMS 347 and PMS 151. The Hex codes, RGB, and CMYK formulations are: Green PMS 347: Hex #009a49 | RGB 0,154,73 | CMYK 100,0,53,40. Orange PMS 151: Hex #ff7900 | RGB 255,121,0 | CMYK 0,53,100,0.

What does the leprechaun symbolize? ›

Lucky Symbols

The leprechaun story says capturing these small creatures will secure a wee bit of luck in addition to three wishes. With this in mind, they have become associated with the “luck of the Irish,” which is one of the reasons they remain so popular today.

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