which means…”happy saint patrick’s day!”
seeing that i’m mostly irish (along with english and german, with a dash of scottish and a faint whiff of native american), i decided to look a little deeper into St. Patrick.
because, honestly, all i know about St. Patrick’s day is that you need to wear green and you get to drink green beer. (just a quick warning…i’m putting my own spin on all of this, which means it’s jovially sarcastic…no offense intended.)
so i looked up St Patrick on History.com and here is a brief overview of what i found out.
St. Patrick was born in Britain, so he was not actually an irishman. he came from a rich family, which pretty much made him an easy target for irish raiders. it was like a big beacon saying “yo, irish raiders, we’re rich..rob us!” kinda like people with flashy diamond rings and furs walking downtown. so, seeing a young man (he was 16), the irish raiders stole him and took him back to ireland. once in ireland, he worked as a shepherd…which is pretty lonely stuff. or so i hear. i personally have never been a shepherd so i don’t really know. i did used to have a sheep at my ex-step grandparents house, and it was a cool sheep…followed me down the hill when i would go fishing. i named her pinkie (she had a pink face instead of the black face). but i don’t think St Patrick had a sheep that was his friend and followed him down the hill when he went fishing, so instead he became very devout in his religious beliefs. after 6 years of captivity, St Patrick had a dream-vision. in the vision, a voice (St Patrick believed it was god) said “Yo, Patrick…time to scram.” and scram he did, back to Britain.
so he escaped back to jolly ole britain, where his new-ish religious devotion led him to another vision. in this vision it said “Yo, Patrick…become a priest and spread the good word to all those heathens in ireland”. so, he did. he enrolled in priest school and after 15 yrs of study (wow, didn’t know it took that long) he returned to ireland. it’s said that he brought catholicism to ireland, but there were already a few there. but for the most part, the irish believed in a nature based pagan religion.
ole Patrick was a smart one. not just a hat rack, my friends…oh no, he had brains in his head and shoes on his feet. instead of trying to completely eradicate the current irish belief system, he incorporated their symbolism as much as he could. and he was successful.
so on the anniversary of his death (which is March 17th), a celebration is had. although it falls during lent (the christian season of giving-up of all fun things), it’s the one day that you can let your hair down and party it up. drinking and dancing and fun…oh my!
which brings us to the symbols. what do they really mean?
thanks to again to History.com, i found out…
1) the shamrock
originally a celtic symbol for spring and rebirth (it was called “seamroy” back in the day). St Patrick used the 3 leaf clover to explain the “holy trinity” (pops, son, and the holy spook). the 4 leaf clover is considered good luck b/c of its rarity. but the 3 leaf clover was the symbol St Pat used. further down the time line, it became a symbol for ireland…more specifically their irish pride & displeasure with england.
2 ) the snake
so rumor has it that St Patrick drove all of the snakes out of ireland by standing on a hilltop with a stick. the snake symbolizes the devil and pagan ideology (wow, totally didn’t see that one coming). really, ireland was never home to many snakes. so, yeah…didn’t really happen. but whatevs, it’s a symbol. they aren’t always the most accurate.
3) the leprechaun
they have nothing to do with St Patrick. but somehow they’re a pretty big symbol around St Patricks day. in celtic terms, leprechaun stem from the belief in fairies…they had magic that they could use for either good or evil. now, the leprechaun were the cobblers of the fairies and were known to be particularly cantankerous. heck, if i repaired tiny shoes while all of the other fairies flew around and did cool stuff like paint flowers and sing and stuff, i’d be pissed too. they were also tricksy and did anything to try to protect their fabled pot o gold. can’t blame ’em…probably had to mend a crap ton of shoes to accumulate all that gold. wouldn’t want some stupid human stealing it from me. it was good ole disney who added a rosy blush to the leprechaun’s cheeks and made ’em all cute and cheery. and that’s the way us americans like to think of them. cute and cheery and willingly giving up their gold if we find it….cuz hey, who wouldn’t want to fork over their life savings to a giant human who followed the end of the freakin rainbow?!?
and there ya have it, kiddos! the 411 on St Patrick’s Day.
so *blog cheers* and enjoy the green beer!