Wednesday, March 17

Stop Pinching Me!

I did not wear green today. I do not plan to go to any parades. I do want to eat corned beef and cabbage or drink green beer. It would be nice to find a leprechaun, but I don’t think that’s likely. I guess that makes me a horrible person, or at least a very bad Irishman. (See, even though I was adopted into a Norwegian family, my true heritage is Hungarian, Irish and English).

But I was curious about St. Patrick’s Day, so I did a little poking around on the internet and found the following compilation of tidbits:
  • St. Patrick’s Day is observed on March 17 because that is the feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. St. Patrick was born in 385 AD somewhere along the west coast of Britain, possibly in the Welsh town of Banwen. At age 16, he was captured and sold into slavery to a sheep farmer. He escaped when he was 22 and spent the next 12 years in a monastery. In his 30s he returned to Ireland as a Christian missionary. It is believed that he died on March 17 in 461 AD and is buried at Downpatrick.
  •  Legend has it that St. Patrick used the native shamrock as a symbol of the holy trinity when preaching. Other legend says that each leaf of the clover means something: the first is for hope, the second for faith, the third for love and the fourth for luck. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the highest number of leaves found on a clover is 14! One estimate suggests that there are about 10 000 regular three-leaf clovers for every lucky four-leaf clover.
  • St. Patrick's celebrations were originally religious festivals; up until the 1970s Irish law mandated that pubs be closed on St. Patrick's Day. In 1995 the Irish government used St. Patrick's day to drive tourism to Ireland. (Oh how times have changed!)
  • St Patrick was said to have proclaimed that everyone should have a drop of the "hard stuff" on his feast day after chastising an innkeeper who served a short measure of whiskey. In the custom known as "drowning the shamrock", the shamrock that has been worn on a lapel or hat is put in the last drink of the evening.
  •  It has long been recounted that, during his mission in Ireland, St. Patrick once stood on a hilltop (which is now called Croagh Patrick), and with only a wooden staff by his side, banished all the snakes from Ireland. In fact, the island nation was never home to any snakes. The "banishing of the snakes" was really a metaphor for the eradication of pagan ideology from Ireland and the triumph of Christianity. Within 200 years of Patrick's arrival, Ireland was completely Christianized.
  • The actual color of St. Patrick is blue. Green became associated with St. Patrick's Day during the 19th century. Green, in Irish legends, was worn by fairies and immortals, and also by people to encourage their crops to grow.
  • Belief in leprechauns probably stems from Celtic belief in fairies, tiny men and women who could use their magical powers to serve good or evil. In Celtic folktales, leprechauns were cranky souls, responsible for mending the shoes of the other fairies. Though only minor figures in Celtic folklore, leprechauns were known for their trickery, which they often used to protect their much-fabled treasure. The story is that if you catch one you can make him tell you where he hides his gold.
Pretty interesting, eh?

Go n-ithe an cat thĂș is go n-ithe an diabhal an cat!
(May the cat eat you, and the devil eat the cat.)


Anonymous said...

Isn't your little saying the same as telling someone to go to hell? Not exactly what a Christian wants to tell someone to do!

Becky said...

Ha ha ha! I guess if that was the case, it wouldn't be something anyone should say, no matter what their religious beliefs are. :)