May the leprechauns be near you,
To spread luck along your way.
And may all the Irish angels,
Smile upon you St. Patrick’s Day. ~ Irish blessing
An Old Irish Blessing:
May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!
We Irish claim St. Patrick as our own, but did you know he really wasn’t Irish?
Patrick was actually born Maewyn Succat in Roman Britain (and he wasn’t particularly religious). As a teenager, he was kidnapped and forced into slavery, tending sheep in Ireland for six years. After his escape, he returned to his family and was ordained a priest, taking the name Patrick; however, a voice told him to go back to Ireland, where he worked hard to serve those who were already Christians and convert those who weren’t.
And what about the legends that sprang up around him? A lot of blarney, to be sure.
- St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland. Sorry, but Ireland is pretty much surrounded by COLD water, which would prevent even the most determined snake from getting in.
- Wearing of the green. Actually, blue is the color associated with St. Patrick. The green idea probably relates to Ireland’s “Emerald Isle” nickname.
- St. Patrick used a shamrock to illustrate the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (the Holy Trinity). Maybe, but nothing in his writings suggest this. Probably the “magic three” is indicative of the Irish rhythm in storytelling. Or has something to do with Past, Present, Future; Love, Valor, Wit; Faith, Hope, Charity; you get the idea.
Although March 17, the date Patrick died, has been celebrated for centuries, credit Irish-Americans with making the holiday what it is today.
Boston has the honor of the first recorded St. Paddy’s Day celebration in 1737. New York held the first St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1762. Not to be outdone, Chicago began dyeing its river green in 1962 (something I’ve never seen, but really want to — I understand the dye actually is orange, but a leprechaun turns it emerald via magic!).
As a side note, last year’s Chicago parade found temperatures in the 80s. This year, we’re looking at the 30s. Go figure!
U.S. Census data indicates there are more than 34.7 million Americans with Irish ancestry — more than seven times the population of Ireland itself!
May there always be work for your hands to do.
May your purse always hold a coin or two.
May the sun always shine warm on your windowpane.
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near you.
And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.
— Irish blessing
Who’s Fiona? My Shamrock plant, that’s who.
Of course you knew I’d have a Shamrock plant, didn’t you? Don’t all Irish folks have Shamrocks hanging around?
Actually, Fiona’s real name is Oxalis, and she’s a member of the wood sorrel family. Her brothers and sisters come in shades of green, purple, and red; they bloom with tiny white, pink, yellow, or red flowers once or twice a year.
Widely available around St. Patrick’s Day, Oxalis is easy to grow from carrot-shaped roots. A perennial, Oxalis likes a woodsy, shady area with rich, moist soil. It goes dormant during the summer; cut the leaves back and put it in a cool, dark place for two to three months. When you notice fresh shoots emerging, move it to a sunny window and start the cycle anew.
One warning: Shamrock plants are toxic to dogs! Ingesting quantities of any part of the plant can cause a dog to vomit and lead to kidney failure and death. My Sheltie doesn’t even know that Fiona exists because she’s on a really tall shelf, far away from his curiosity!
Methinks St. Paddy’s Day celebrations, especially on college campuses in the U.S., have gotten out of hand.
At the University of Illinois, for example, “Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day” was held this past weekend. Buses and trains brought in party-goers from across the state and even from out of state. Besides consuming more alcohol than was reasonably prudent, these revelers tossed objects from balconies, received more than 300 notices to appear in court for drug possession and public urination (among others), and left behind enough litter to fill a football stadium.
More than 20 were taken to local hospitals on alcohol-related issues. In previous years, some have been injured or even lost their life, again mostly alcohol-related.
Now I love a good party as much as the next Irishman, but really, is all this craziness necessary? When a person can’t remember how he got where he is, who he was with, or what he did, why does he think he had a good time??
Traditionally, March 17 was set aside to honor St. Patrick, who used a three-leafed shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to pagan Irish people and convert them to Christianity.
What once was a mostly Catholic saint’s day, with observers attending church and dining simply on corned beef and cabbage, has become an excuse for drunken celebrations across the land.
That makes me a wee bit sad, for as a culture, the Irish have been known for too long as drinkers. There are Irish drinking jokes, Irish toasts, even Irish quips on T-shirts.
I suspect there’s one reason behind all this — money.
Bars and restaurants are happy to trade food and drink to party-goers for green cash. Communities, strapped in tough economic times, are glad to take tourists’ money in exchange for hosting a colorful parade or dying some river or fountain Kelly green.
But not all Irish are drunks; some Irish never even touch alcohol.
And I hate to see what should be a joyous occasion marked by people throwing up in the streets and winding up unconscious (or worse) in some hospital.
Especially when those people are our young.
Perhaps we need to imitate the Irish in the motherland, who celebrate the festive occasion with music, sports competitions, fireworks, films, and other family-friendly events.
And remember, “There are only two kinds of people in the world, the Irish and those who wish they were!”