It’s been maybe 9 and a half years since I last celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland and through travelling around this fine world, I’ve had this conversation too many times to count:
Someone: ‘Where are you from?’
Someone: ‘Oh, you’re Irish! Me too.’
Me: ‘Really? What part of Ireland are you from?’
Someone: ‘Oh, I’ve never actually been to Ireland. My great-grandmother was Irish.’
Me: ‘So where in America are you from?’
There’s no day in the whole year that this conversation happens more than on March 17th….or the Saturday after if it falls on a weekday. There’s also the whole rigmarole of me also having to prove I’m Irish on occasion due the fact that six years in England and four in Korea has led to my accent being a bit askew. Also living with The Canadian One I pick up little bits of twang…although he doesn’t say ‘aboot’ or ‘ey’ nearly as much as I would have hoped.
Just while I’m on the subject of words said
incorrectly differently, please please Americans (and all other people in the world who do it) stop calling it St. Patty’s Day. It’s St. Patrick’s Day, St. Paddy’s Day or just Paddy’s Day. Under NO circumstances should it be called St. Patty’s Day.
Paddy: Short for Patrick.
Patty: Short for Patricia, the name of Marge’s sister in The Simpsons and the name of a small, round serving of meat usually found on a burger. Can be used to cover everything from the dubious stuff that goes on a McDonald’s Cheeseburger to the gourmet homemade thingys The Canadian One makes.
If you don’t believe me, go to Ireland, call a fella ‘Patty’ and see what happens, I dare ya. It’s worth knowing, Ireland’s healthcare costs are astronomical so ye may wanna pick a guy you’ve got a fightin’ chance with.
Moving on. Now, not a lot is known about old St. Paddy himself. What is known is that he wasn’t Irish. At all. Not one little bit. He’s British.
Just to recap our geography, before anyone writes and says, ‘it’s the saaaaame’, Britain = England, Scotland and Wales. Not Ireland.
St. Patrick, presumably back when he was just plain Patrick (or Paddy to his friends), at age sixteen was kidnapped by Irish raiders and brought to Ireland to work as a shepard. I kid you not, we properly snatched and grabbed him. Then we kept him for 6 years until he escaped and fled back to his family in Britain.
The story goes, as stories do, that while alone and secluded from other people working on the mountains in Ireland, God spoke to him. God told him he’d soon be free and it was time to leave Ireland. Upon his return to his homeland, he entered the church where he stayed for 15 years (approx, who really knows) and then he returned to Ireland. Seriously, he came back to the people that kidnapped him in the first place.
blamed for credited with bringing christianity to our small little island (was it really necessary?), we celebrate St. Patrick’s death in the form of drinking, parades with floats, green beer, dying our rivers green (with orange dye no less) and wearing silly hats. Do you think this is what he had in mind when he brought us religion? Floats and alcohol? One can only hope!
So where does the shamrock come into all this?
Well, St. Patrick used the shamrock (a three-leafed clover, NOT four, three…THREE) to explain the Holy Trinity to the people of Ireland and naturally, we adopted as our national flower.
Ah, tell me about the snakes.
Apparently St. Patrick, in his spare time between praying, talking to God, explaining the Holy Trinity to people and spreading the christian word, also got rid of all the snakes in Ireland. Every single one of them. No snakes in Ireland no more. And why? Cos St. Paddy got rid of them all. True story. Probably. Again, who really knows?
And what about the leprechauns?
They don’t come into this story so we’ll have to deal with them in a different post.
For more information on St. Patrick, you should watch this mini film by Brown Bag Films (it’s only 4:30 mins long). Recorded in 1960, its young children in an inner city Dublin National School telling their versions of bible stories to a film crew. Hilarious, warming and Oscar-nominated, well worth four and a half minutes of your life.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day all, wear green and don’t drink too much!
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