Get your Irish on — it’s St. Patrick’s Day
By Linda Albert | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Faith and begorrah, what a wonderful day!
That’s right, folks. Today is the day when those of us with strands of green DNA — unrelated to “Star Trek” Vulcan Mr. Spock, that is — celebrate all things Irish.
(Just as a side note: Despite the green blood, Spock would never be confused with an Irishman. He was too stoic.)
I do have the mixture of Irish, Scottish, German, Welsh, Austrian, Dutch, English and perhaps Spanish blood coursing through my veins. Today, though, the Irish takes over and with it, the twinkle in the eye, the potatoes in the pan and the shamrocks in the yard.
Think I’ll dye my hair green, too. Several folks, including my loving son, have pointed out the overabundance of silver recently. Might as well have fun with it, and I can’t imagine anything more fun than walking into an interview with green hair. Talk about getting back to your Irish roots ... Wonder how long it would take before I’d need touch-up color?
Maybe I should rethink that. A green shirt would probably be much more suitable in the eyes of my bosses.
All kidding aside, I checked http://www.history.com to find out more about St. Patrick’s Day. I learned that Saint Patrick, who lived during the fifth century, is the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland. He was born in Roman Britain, was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave at the age of 16. He later escaped, but returned to Ireland and was credited with bringing Christianity to its people. People in Ireland began observing the Roman Catholic feast day of St. Patrick on March 17, believed to be the day of Patrick’s death in 461, in the ninth or 10th century.
Legends surround St. Patrick, with possibly the best known being that he explained the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit using the three leaves of the shamrock, the native Irish clover. Remember the legend that St. Patrick banished all the snakes from Ireland? http://History.com has this to say: “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.”
And you know that “traditional” Irish meal of corned beef and cabbage? I checked several websites and found that, while cabbage has long been an Irish food, corned beef has not. Instead, it was used as a substitute for bacon by Irish-American immigrants in the late 19th century because corned beef was much cheaper than bacon.
And then we have the leprechaun, defined by http://www.thefreedictionary.com as “one of a race of elves in Irish folklore who can reveal hidden treasure to those who catch them.” In Celtic folktales, leprechauns were cranky souls, responsible for mending the shoes of the other fairies, and were known for their trickery, which they often used to protect their treasure. They have nothing at all to do with the Catholic holy day of St. Patrick’s Day.
What we now see as a leprechaun is totally an American invention by none other that Walt Disney. In 1959, Disney released a film called “Darby O’Gill & the Little People” with a cheerful, friendly leprechaun rather than the cantankerous little man of Irish folklore.
On http://history.com , the first parade held to honor St. Patrick’s Day is said to have taken place in the United States on March 17, 1762, when Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City. Information from http://history1800s.about.com disagrees with http://history.com , however. This site reports: “According to legend, the earliest celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in America took place in Boston in 1737, when colonists of Irish descent marked the event with a modest parade.”
Both sites agree that the parade is an American invention and was exported back to Ireland.
Since today we can all celebrate the Irish within and around us, here’s an Irish blessing:
“May there always be work for your hands to do, may your purse always hold a coin or two; may the sun always shine on your windowpane; may a rainbow be certain to follow each rain; may the hand of a friend always be near you; may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.”
Linda Albert is Sunday Life editor and a staff writer for The Daily Times. Her column runs every Sunday in the Life section. You may contact her at 981-1168 or (email@example.com)