Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I wrote this for my work blog, but it was so Irish that I share it with you today! Bless you all!

 

To most in America, Saint Patrick’s Day celebrates the Irish and their traditions by parades, music, shamrocks, and green beer. But are we celebrating true traditions or a fluffy version? Here are myths and truths about this favorite day:

First off, the patron saint of Ireland was actually born in Scotland in the late 4th century. When he was a teenager, he was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Ireland. Six years later, he escaped and went back to Scotland, where he joined a monastery. As an adult, he returned to Ireland as a missionary, where he lived for 40 years, dying in A.D. 461. His real name is believed to be Maewyn Succat and he took on the name Patrick upon becoming a priest.

St. Patrick’s Day did not start out as a party day. Until the 1700s, it was a day in the Catholic calendar in observance of a saint important to and popular in Ireland…and not much anywhere else. And even in Ireland, Catholics honored St. Patrick with prayer and quiet reflection. St. Patrick’s Day as we know it today started in America in the late 19th and early 20th century, when the large numbers of newly arrived Irish immigrants began using the day as a way to celebrate their Irish heritage.

Green was not always the color of St. Patrick’s Day. Members of the Order of St. Patrick actually used blue as their symbolic color.

The shamrock, as beautiful a plant as it is, is not the officially sanctioned symbol of Ireland. The official symbol is a harp.

Corned beef and cabbage is actually about as Irish as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Favorite Irish foods include traditional fare like Irish bacon, lamb, and soda bread and of course, Irish stew. The tradition of corned beef and cabbage likely came from Irish immigrants who had to make do with what food was available to them once they arrived in the United States.

St. Patrick did not drive the snakes from Ireland. The Ice Age deserves more credit for ridding snakes from Ireland than Patrick. The truth is that weather conditions on the Emerald Isle make snake existence virtually impossible. Thus there have never been any snakes living there at all. As the period came to an end snakes migrated northwards but stopped at Britain when melting ice caps created the Irish Sea.

St. Patrick also did not defeat the pagan druids. The truth: This story is believed to have been invented by a cleric, Muirchú, who lived two centuries later. Historians believe that there were already Christian believers in Ireland by the time Patrick arrived. Ireland also had strong trading links with the Roman Empire, and the religion is likely to have been spread.

It is said that on St. Patrick’s Day, everyone is Irish. Take the blarney and the blessings and the message the day brings and enjoy yourself!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

shamrock-heart_designTo my Mom, who was Irish.  Miss you, Mom. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

*

*

Irish Regret

Bittersweet memories

Blur my perception of the past

Connection with my roots

Happened long after

My Irish mother

Went wandering

Into the Eternal Green

I always heard the song

Of the creative muse

In my head, my heart

My very soul

Yet my ignorance

Veiled the possibilities

Of today, tomorrow

And all that had been

My dearest Irish Rose

A perfume I rarely inhaled

Is your memory enough

To make the garden bloom again?

My mother’s secret shadows

Haunt me to this day

Leaving so many strings untied

If only I had paid attention

I should have asked about

Her blood so green

And history so ripe

Tales of the clan of Cullen

Too late came to light

Only to become part of

Yesterday’s sunrise

I’m sorry I didn’t feel

Your Celtic heart

Pounding inside of mine

I hold onto the strands

Of Irish dreams and songs

One last attempt to thread the tapestry

Of an ancestry so bright and real

I shine within my mother’s glow

And scream it from top to hill

My melancholy regret

Is that she’s not here

To dance the jig

And toast the shamrock

With her daughter so true

And so Irish

Erin go bragh!

green_beer_400St. Patrick’s Day. Far removed from the original in Ireland; far removed from  it’s original form.  But then again, so is Christmas.

When people think of St. Pattie’s Day, they think of drunken revelers starting at 6 a.m. and passing out by 3 p.m. Heck — that happens in my college town every year. It means corned beef and cabbage, potatoes, and — yes — green beer.

Since most of those foods weren’t even around back in St. Pattie’s day, let’s just take a moment to see what that phrase means. Erin go bragh. Ireland Forever.

There’s something sentimental about ‘ol Ireland; the green hills, the Gaelic charm. The lullabies and the Irish sayings. They all seem to hone in to the heart on March 17th more than other days of the year.

I am one-fourth Irish, and although I don’t fall down drunk on Green Beer, I do enjoy Reubens and Reuben Wraps and beer — green or not. My mother was Irish, and what a little firecracker she was. I’m sad I never took the time to get to know her heritage better. Heck — I’m sorry I didn’t get to know HER better. She was taken at 54, and I always wonder what life would have been like if she had seen her grandkids.

The Irish have had their sad side, too. The immigrants, the stereotyping. It happens to any race that is a minority. Fortunately, the Irish have moved from cursed to revered. So should it be for all races.

So on this Great Irish Day, raise a glass/mug of beer/soda/milk, and toast the freedom that was brought to us by the Irish. And the Polish. And the French. And the Chinese. And the Germans. And the Swedes. And the Hungarians. And the Japanese. And the Russians. And the Africans.

But instead of shouting “Erin go Bragh”, let’s shout something more meaningful.

Stáit Aontaithe Mheiriceá go brách.

United States Forever.