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Wear Orange on St. Patrick's Day

The Flag of Ireland. Green for Catholics, orange for Protestants and white for peace between the two.
The Flag of Ireland. Green for Catholics, orange for Protestants and white for peace between the two.

If you are looking to be a little different on this St. Patrick's Day then orange may be your color.

Josh Claybourn wears orange while drinking an orange beer.
Josh Claybourn

Though green is the traditional color to sport on March 17th, orange is fast becoming the color to wear during the celebration of all things Irish.

St. Patrick's Day began in New York in the early 19th Century as a day for Irish Catholics to celebrate the day named for a 3rd Century English missionary.

Green became the color associated with the day but now orange is the color of choice for a large segment of the Irish and non-Irish population.

"It's clearly a growing trend." says Joshua Claybourn an attorney in Evansville, Indiana. "More and more people are wearing orange on St. Patrick's Day," he said.

Claybourn was 14 when his grandfather Jim Claybourn suggested he wear orange on St. Patrick's Day.

"My grandfather said that, as kind of a joke. But after I did some research I discovered that it wasn't just a joke. There was some historical foundations to wearing orange."

The tradition of wearing orange began as a celebration of the Protestant King William of Orange's defeat of the Catholic King James II at Boyne near Dublin in 1690.

In 2005 Claybourn, a Lutheran, published an article online titled "An Orange St. Patrick's Day?" where he recounted the history and tradition of Protestants wearing orange.

in 2009 The Evansville Courier and Press picked up the article where it garnered a tremendous response Claybourne said.

"Every day around this time of year maybe 60 people read the article. But on St. Patrick's day it's in the hundreds."

Claybourn said after the article was published last year he got a call from a man in Ireland who had a negative response to the article. "He was, I presume, Catholic. He didn't take it too kindly."

Claybourn notes that parades of the Orange Order have met with negative reactions and violence in parts of Northern Ireland. The Orange Order is a fraternal organization that holds parades on July 12 to celebrate Williams' defeat of James at Boyne.

Claybourn says that he can't foresee that violence spreading to America because, "being able to wear orange is a testament to the diversity of America."

"It's so much of who we are as Americans to live side by side with our differences. We can see it as something that's not negative. Here in America it's a cultural phenomenon and not so much religious. It's fun to celebrate on those grounds."

Another interesting note Claybourn said is that St. Patrick was English and not Irish. "And he lived before the Protestant/Catholic split and so that opens him up to everyone."

Claybourn says that in Protestant areas such as the American South the wearing of orange will become more popular. "It should really catch fire and it will be something they can celebrate on St. Patrick's Day."

Claybourne says on this St. Patrick's Day he will be wearing a bright orange tie.

"It's a great conversation piece. People always say 'hey you're not wearing green.' Then you can go into the heritage and history of why you are wearing orange."


  • darcy 5 years ago

    Orange has always been worn by the northern ireland people. It has been religious thing. the catholic vs. the protestants. The protestants have always called themselves the orangeman. Its the entire history of the two fighting back and forth. If you want any info talk to anyone born in northern ireland. and the will tell you the true reason behind wearing the orange

  • Culby 5 years ago

    The first large Irish migration to America were Ulstermen, Protestants from the northern counties. They began calling themselves Scotch-Irish to differentiate from the Catholics who migrated from Ireland in the late 1840's. Traced back, Scotch-Irish were Orangemen. One can often locate where they first settled in America by the names of counties such as Ulster County and Orange County in the state of New York.

  • G_Murr 4 years ago

    St. Patrick was a Welshman back when I was in school

  • Anonymous 4 years ago

    Okay, this a little mad. Saint Patrick's Day is only accosiated with wearing green because it was the colour of the shamrock and he is saint of Ireland (the whole Island), which to be fair is called the 'emarld isle' (thats a shade of green). Thought your most loyalist solution could cause problems. One half of the people in green and one half in orange, becareful not to put anything white between them. Hey, what can I say, your suggestion. As a student away from home I'm celebrating the country I miss (Northern Ireland) and I study Saint Patrick in school and his message a deeply strong christian teaching on faith. Stop hi-jacking it.

  • Anonymous-1 4 years ago

    To Anonymous: Your first statement is totally not the true reason for wearing of green. Might make you FEEL nice, but not the underlying reason. If you are truly trying to educate yourself, then learn Ireland's history. Search Google for William of Orange. There is a long history behind the wearing of Orange vs Green on St. Patrick's Day and other days, even. Just because you don't agree with history, doesn't change the facts. No one is highjacking St. Patrick. He was alive BEFORE the Catholic/Protestant split. So, he is not exclusive to any side.

  • MacDonald 4 years ago

    As a Scot, my dad taught us early about being Orangemen. Caught a lot of flak from the Catholics in school when I wore orange. I remember my dad saying something about when you met a Scot or an Irishman, you ask them "Be ye a billy or a joe???" I think that's how I remember it. Ring a bell with anyone else? I think billy was the protestant and joe was the catholic?? I have passed the wearing of the orange tradition on to my kids and grandkids.

  • Anonymous 3 years ago

    Wow. Way to incite thousands of years worth of hatred. Wearing orange on St. Padrig's does not make you "a little different" it makes you an incompetent a@@hole.

  • Midwest Paddy 2 years ago

    Orange is the color of the oppressor. I may be wrong, but don't the protestants in the North consider themselves to be englishmen?

  • Michelle 1 year ago

    People should be free to express themselves in any way that they want as long as they don't make fun others. Americans can live with many differences, so why should whether you wear orange or green be a problem? It shouldn't matter what others think; do what makes you happy. If orange or green makes you happy then fine. Just leave it at that.

  • djbar 1 year ago

    I've been wear Orange since 1969 when my Grandfather Wade explained to me why he wore orange on St. Patricks day.

  • Super Anonymous 1 year ago

    British, yes. English, no. (well except for those who are English but live in Northern Ireland)

  • bill 1 year ago

    You are missing the point here. The day is ST. PATRICK'S DAY. He is a Catholic saint, protestants don't celebrate feast days so to say this is a protestant is just plain wrong. Wear whatever color you want but the only reason for Orange is to show you are a protestant on a Catholic holiday. Purely antagonistic.

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