Dreaming of Green
I don't know about you, but I am dreaming of green things, and I don't just mean green beverages, and four leaf clovers. I'm dreaming of home grown vegetables, the smell of fresh cut grass, spring salads, and the cool green shade of the thickly clad trees in my backyard during summer. Winter has been long and gray in Michigan. Even the evergreens look gray here during winter, but lately i've begun to notice bits of green peeking through our long dead lawn and the crocus have come up in our beds. They have blooms as of this week, a sure sign that we will certainly be enveloped in a wonderland of green here soon. There is something about the long absence of a thing that makes it seem so much more powerful. I think this sensation is probably never felt more intensely than at the end of a long winter, when suddenly everything is bursting with lovely, living green.
Green has very much become a symbol of life and health in most, although not all of the modern world, but it was once associated with poison and sickness. A number of early green dyes in fact were poisonous, including Scheele's Green, an arsenic containing pigment popular in the victorian era, which is believed by some to have been a factor in the death of Napoleon. Even today, despite the healthy image that often accompanies the color, many green dyes are said to be questionable.
A quick search of the internet concerning cultural associations with the color green, will tell you that the color is forbidden in Indonesia. A bit more digging will reveal that it is apparently mostly forbidden in the southern beaches of Java Island. This ban on green is related to Nyi Roro Kidul also known as the "Queen of the Southern Sea". Nyi Roro Kidul is described as a mermaid, a spirit, and a goddess. Legend holds that she wears a green dress, and that if you also wear green to the beach she reigns over she will drag you down beneath the powerful waves and you will be drowned.
In China wearing a green hat is taboo. When a man wears a green hat it means that his wife is cheating on him. I can not say for certain if this meaning is still taken literally. At least one blog I read indicated that it's more a matter of looking ignorant of Chinese custom and therefore like a foolish foreigner. What color hat one wears seems like a personal choice, and not a big deal to the western mind, but from all I have read, it is truly a huge faux pas in China, and basically sounds like you can expect a bit of ridicule if you decide to buck the system. Several sources even said that the custom goes back as far as the Yuan Dynasty, when the family members of prostitutes were reportedly made to wear green hats.
In the Middle East green is associated with Islam. In South America it is associated with death. In Mexico it is the national color and symbolizes patriotism and independence. As stated earlier, in the west green is associated with health and life, but also growth, progress, envy, and St. Patrick's Day! I'll admit that St. Patrick's Day is not a regular tradition for me, but I know it is for many of my friends. It strikes me just how much our lives have changed in the past year as we go into a second year of celebrating St. Patrick's Day in a socially distanced way. Here is a link to a list of the various socially distanced and virtual St. Patrick's Day celebrations happening today. Don't forget to wear your green!