Welcome back and HAPPY, almost, Spring!
Spring here in the valley is harsh on those with seasonal allergies. I mean harsh. Being NOT a native to the Grand Valley, only makes it worse. I’ve lived my entire life (minus the last 4 years) over on the Front Range of Colorado, where there is a WHOLE different species of allergies, of which I am totally in line with and don’t have to worry as much as over here.
That being said (I am SO not a fan of that saying. My boss uses it all the time, I mean ALL the time!)
St. Paddy’s Day or St Patty’s Day?
Saint Patrick’s Day or the Feast of Saint Patrick?
However you look at it, St Paddy’s Day is a cultural and religious celebration held on 17 March, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland.
But who WAS St. Patrick? Let’s take a look into the man, the life and the legends!
The Man :
St. Patrick, can be credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland and probably responsible in part for the Christianization of the Picts and Anglo-Saxons. We get to know St Patrick from only two short works, the Confessio, which is a spiritual autobiography, and his Letter to Coroticus, a denunciation of British mistreatment of Irish Christians.
Patrick was born in Britain to a Romanized family; at 16 he was taken from the villa of his father, Calpurnius, a deacon and minor local official, by Irish raiders and carried into slavery in Ireland. For six long years he was a herdsman, during which he turned to his faith with a passion. Dreaming the ship in which he was to escape was ready, he fled his master and found passage to Britain, where he nearly starved and suffered a second brief captivity before he was reunited with his family. According to tradition, Patrick returned to Ireland where he spent many years evangelizing in the northern half of Ireland and converting “thousands” of pagan Irish to Christianity.
By the end of the 7th century, Patrick became a legendary figure. One of the legends claim he drove the snakes of Ireland into the sea to their destruction. Patrick wrote he raised people from the dead, a 12th-century hagiography (what the heck is hagiography? According to Webster it’s “the writing of the lives of saints”) states the number to be 33 men, of those some were claimed to have been deceased for many years. Patrick, also, reportedly prayed for food for hungry sailors traveling by land through a desolate area and a herd of swine miraculously appeared.
Probably the most popular legend, is that of the shamrock, which has him explaining the concept of the Holy Trinity (three persons in one God) to an unbeliever by showing him the three-leaved plant with one stalk, since then the Irishmen have worn shamrocks (Ireland’s national) in their lapels on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17.
These generally involved parades and festivals, traditional Irish music sessions and the wearing of green or shamrocks. There are also gatherings like banquets and dances, although these were more common in the past. St. Paddy’s Day parades started in North America during the 18th century but did not spread to Ireland until the 20th century and the week of Saint Patrick’s Day is known “Irish language week”.
Christians may attend church services and the Lenten restrictions of eating and drinking alcohol are lifted for the day. This could be why drinking alcohol, particularly Irish whiskey, beer or cider has become an integral part of many celebrations. Another popular St Paddy’s Day custom, especially in Ireland, is “drowning the shamrock” or “wetting the shamrock” . At the end of the celebrations, a shamrock is dropped to bottom of a cup, then filled with whiskey, beer, or cider. This then becomes a toast to Saint Patrick, Ireland, or to those present; the shamrock is then either swallowed with the drink or taken out and tossed over the shoulder for good luck.
On Saint Patrick’s Day, it is customary to wear shamrocks, green clothing or green accessories.
The color green has been associated with Ireland since the 1640s, when the green harp flag was used by the Irish Catholic Confederation, representing “the scared emblem of Ireland’s unconquered soul”. Green ribbons and shamrocks have been worn on St Patrick’s Day since the 1680s, where The Friendly Brothers of St Patrick (an Irish fraternity) adopted green as its color. During the 1790s, green would become associated with Irish nationalism, due to its use by the United Irishmen; a republican organization, led mostly by Protestants but included many Catholic members, and who launched a rebellion in the late 1700’s against British rule. Finally, in 1795, Ireland was described as “the Emerald Isle” for the first time in print in “When Erin First Rose”, a poem by co-founder of the United Irishmen William Drennan, stressed the historical importance of green to the Irish.
That was then….what about now?
Well first off, Ireland is an island, filled with green leafy trees and grassy hills and is referred to as the Emerald Isle. In the 18th century, green was introduced to St. Patrick’s Day festivities, when the shamrock became a national symbol and because of the shamrock’s popularity and Ireland’s landscape, the color stuck to the holiday
Maybe, most importantly, green is also the color of the mythical fairies, otherwise known as Leprechauns and the one reason you’re supposed to wear green on St. Paddy’s Day.
This tradition or folklore says wearing green makes you invisible to Leprechauns: which is good news, since they like to pinch anyone they can see. Many think sporting the color green will bring good luck and still others wear it to honor their Irish ancestry. No wonder green can be seen all over, even the Chicago River in Illinois is dyed green each year to celebrate the holiday.
Let’s not forget the tradition of eating corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day. This likely grew out of the fact those foods were less expensive for immigrants who came to America, so they substituted beef for pork and cabbage for potatoes.
However you celebrate, here’s hoping it’s a lucky day!