Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patricks Day!

Happy St. Patricks Day!

My family is Irish. Full blown (well, except for the Ashkenazi Jew I married, and the little half Jewish babies we made/are making!) And for us, St. Patricks day is a big deal.

Did you know that the whole snake ridding thing is just a myth?

St. Patrick is the patron Saint of Ireland. When he was 16 he was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders and was held captive for six years. Then, Mr. Smarty Pants Patrick escaped from his captivity and walked 200 miles from County Mayo to the coast, where eventually escaped to Britain.

Pause- homeboy walks for 200 miles as an escaped prisoner and no one can catch him? He was WALKING.

Ok- so. So now St. Patrick is in Britain and he has this dream revelation telling him to return to Ireland as a missionary. He studies for fifteen years (dedication?), becomes ordained as a priest, and returns to Ireland to live with Irish that are already Christians while trying to convert those that are not.

This is where we get the Celtic cross. And how many of you have a Celtic cross tattooed on you somewhere? Do you know where it came from?

Instead of obliterating the Irish culture in his teaching of Christianity to the Irish, St. Patrick tried to incorporate the culture and language into his lessons on Christianity. So, he imposed the symbol of the sun, one that the farmers of Ireland knew well, onto the Christian cross- tada! A Celtic cross.

So there were no snakes, and somewhere along the line in America it became all about green beer and Corned Beef and Cabbage. Which is cool. In Ireland it is celebrated by going to Mass, and is a Holy Obligation Day. Whoooaaaa. They celebrate by cooking up some Mutton
Bacon and Cabbage
Colcannon (one of my favorites)
Soda Bread (a staple here in the Danger home)
or Brown Bread

One of the coolest things about the Irish culture is their myth and lore, transferred for so many years by the oral tradition before they were ever put onto paper. I was read these stories as a kid, and I still read them now- to myself and to my own kids. I can remember my Grandma Catherine (one of like 17 Catherines in my family! No joke) telling them to us all at holidays and Sundays after Mass. She would always speak to us in Gaelic so that we wouldn’t forget the language, and she would tell us over and over again what it was like on her farm “back home”, what the boat trip was like over, how my Grandpa came to get her so he could marry her, all of it. I loved it. I miss it. I try to tell all of these to my kids too, so that they will have the same memories.
Here is a link from the History Channel on St. Patricks Day.

And here is a link for Irish Mythology from Wikipedia.

Lastly, here is a link from Shaw University on Irish Literature, Mythology, Folklore, and Drama.

Even though it is not about conversion anymore, or any religion at all actually, people still celebrate because of the tradition. My family and I still celebrate, so that is what we will be doing tonight.

I hope you and yours enjoy your St. Patricks Day!