Green is for Catholics, Orange is for Protestants, White is for the rest of us Heritics (Pagan, Wiccan, Druid and the sort). So I suggest you choose your color(s) wisely. ;-)
Now if you would like a bit of history on the Green and the Orange, please take the time to read the history lession which the lovely Meaghan was sweet enough to write up for me 2 years ago ~~
Okay - here's the deal with the Green and the Orange.
On the surface, Green is for Catholics, and Orange is for Protestants.
The North of Ireland (I will explain about this term in a second) is held currently by the English government, and populated largely by Protestants. The Irish are largely a Catholic people. When the English came in and raided - they outlawed the practice of Catholicism and also patriotic songs about Ireland (not to mention the pagan practices that were still taking place in some parts of Ireland. They also burned Monastaries that had been preserving the books of old, and a lot of the history and heritage of Ireland from before Christianity came to Ireland. When they tried to take out the Catholics, they wound up taking out a lot more than that. They didn't succeed in stomping out Catholicism in Ireland, and destroyed a lot of valuable things in the meantime). So the "wearing of the Green" was to symbolize that you didn't support English rule and/or were Catholic. Those who converted to Church Of England, supported English rule, or moved over from England were the Orange - where the color came from I am not sure. There are songs about the "Wearing of the Green" and songs that seem to be about women, but these are songs about Irish patriotism. Catholics would put candles in thier windows to let folks know that they were Catholic and performed Mass in the home. (Any Catholic male head-of-household can perform Mass in the situation where a priest is not available and will not be for some time.) When the Irish gained footing and started taking back the land, the Protestants wound up moving North as the large majority of the Irish population viewed them as a threat. Different neighborhoods in the "larger" cities of Ireland wound up with barbed wire fence around them to keep the Catholics and Protestants off of each other. This is where you start getting into the different factions of the IRA and S.F. (I can't spell it with this keyboard - I will have to point you to somewhere that has it spelled properly)... I can go on and on about this particular topic - my family is pretty new to this country, and we still have the habits of passing on the traditions...
This is why when John F. Kennedy showed up to visit Ireland wearing Orange as a Catholic, it pissed off so many Irish and so many Irish Catholics in America. It was not a well-recieved gesture. To say the least.
*Northern Ireland - The North of Ireland: The Irish who live in the Republic refer to this as the North of Ireland, as they do not recognize the hold that England has on it, and refuse to refer to it as a separate country. Once us stubborn folks get something in our head, it is a rough time getting it out! :)
** and this tidbit is from Dani last year ~~ The white represents peace and unity between the green and the orange. The orange comes from William of Orange, a Dutch Protestant whose army defeated the army of James, the Catholic former king of England, at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. The North is largely Protestant because the English government took most of the land of its Catholic residents and gave it to Protestant settlers from Scotland and England in the 1600s and 1700s.
*** and this is from Alan last year ~~ First off, I would never, ever, ever, EVER go there wearing green or orange. At least not the bright green or bright orange that is. That's the quickest way to get messed with or just flat out shot. Northern Ireland is a pretty good mix of both Protestant and Catholic. And it's kind of like you said. There are neighborhoods of either one or the other and normally separated by some form of barrier. The place is overrun by "paramilitaries", which are basically gangs from what I learned and saw. It really is pointless though. It's a stupid controversy over religion and a war that should never be fought. Let anyone believe in what they want to and let anyone wear whatever color they want(Except pastels. I think those are the people that should be shot on sight). It's really sad to see my home away from home like that. Especially since I want to live there someday. I'll probably end up living in the South first.
Oh, and just another lovely tidbit gathered from the host family I was staying with. Don't ever speak Gaelic in Northern Ireland. The "paramilitaries" have taken it for their own gang talk. You'll start trouble with one of them if they catch you speaking it. It's just sad that their original language can't be spoken because it's considered gang talk."
* So there you have your history lesson about colors for St Patty's day! I just had to forward this article, thanks to the lovely sm101. I hope that you enjoy it too. *