This holiday goes by different names in different countries. In Ireland, it is often called Orangemen's Day or Orangefest, and in Newfoundland and Labrador (in Canada) it is sometimes simply called Orange Day. I know you're wondering if the day honors the fruit or the color, but in actuality it is a celebration of a military victory of the Protestant King William of Orange against the Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland.
Yikes! I am not usually one to want to celebrate bloodshed over religious differences!
However, those that celebrate Orange Day (by any name) these days point out that our modern emphasis is not on past violence or political differences between Protestant and Catholic Irish, but rather on culture and colorful traditions. People march in parades, decorate the streets with flags and bunting and banners, and light bonfires.
Unfortunately, a lot of people who are still alive well remember the Troubles between Protestants and Catholics in Ireland (from the late 1960s to the late 1990s), so I think that there is some possibility that colorful traditions could once again spill over into fighting. Let it not be so!!
Maybe we should just make the holiday all about the color and the fruit called “orange”?
Here are some of my favorite orange things:
- Orange and chocolate, together! Yum. Whether it's candy, cake, or ice cream, chocolate is better with a dash of orange flavoring.
- Fresh-squeezed orange juice.
- Orange leaves in the fall. I like the golden ones and red ones, too, of course, but the orange ones are my favorite.
- Jack-o-lanterns. I prefer the ones with cheery faces or intricate scenes, but scary faces are fun, too.
- Orange slices. You know, that candy shaped like wedges of orange (the fruit) with sugar crystals on the outside?
- All the orange worn by the Dutch during national soccer games, Queen's Day, and other assorted events that call for patriotism. The color orange is a patriotic color for the Netherlands because it is the color of its royal family—which dates back to William of Orange, which brings us full circle on this discussion of Orangefest!
Also on this date: