Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy Saint Patty's Day!

I have to admit... I'm not a huge fan of St Patty's Day.  I think it's bc as a kid I always forgot it was St Patty's Day and proceeded to get pinched by "friends", not gently, mind you, all the way to school on the bus and on the playground b/4 the bell rang when the teacher finally pinned me with a green shamrock that no one could really see b/c it was so small and so I continued to get pinched from behind all day!!! Argh!! Just thinking of it makes me want to go back and take out a few of those who had the strongest fingers - John Holmberg, if you're out there....  watch out!!  :) 

So, really, why do those of us who are not Irish celebrate an Irish holiday?  What is St Patrick's Day anyway?  It's obviously to remember a patron saint but who can tell me who he was (other than his name) and what he did?  I certainly can't but I'm quite certain he doesn't look like a leprechaun and even more certain he didn't get drunk on green beer....  Wikipedia, help!!!

St Patrick's Day is.... "a religious holiday celebrated internationally on 17 March. It is named after Saint Patrick (c. AD 387–461), the most commonly recognised of the patron saints of Ireland. It is observed by the Roman Catholic Church...  and Lutherans. Saint Patrick's Day was made an official feast day in the early 17th century, and has gradually become a celebration of Irish culture in general.[2]
The day is generally characterised by the attendance of church services, wearing of green attire (especially shamrocks), and the lifting of Lenten restrictions on fasting and drinking, which is often proscribed during the rest of the season.[3][4][5][6]

Well, it seems two out of three  ain't bad... somehow the chruch services of the day lost their influence and simply gave way to the wearing of the green and a drink fest!!  My Catholic friends.... are there still church services that people go to?  I can't say that I know.  

More on the actual saint....

Little is known of Patrick's early life, though it is known that he was born in Roman Britain in the 4th century, into a wealthy Romano-British family. His father and grandfather were deacons in the Church. At the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken captive to Ireland as a slave.[9] It is believed he was held somewhere on the west coast of Ireland, possibly Mayo, but the exact location is unknown. According to his Confession, he was told by God in a dream to flee from captivity to the coast, where he would board a ship and return to Britain. Upon returning, he quickly joined the Church in Auxerre in Gaul and studied to be a priest.[citation needed]
In 432, he again said that he was called back to Ireland, though as a bishop, to Christianize the Irish from their native polytheism. Irish folklore tells that one of his teaching methods included using the shamrock to explain the Christian doctrine of the Trinity to the Irish people. After nearly thirty years of evangelism, he died on 17 March 461, and according to tradition, was buried at Downpatrick. Although there were other more successful missions to Ireland from Rome, Patrick endured as the principal champion of Irish Christianity and is held in esteem in the Irish Church.

Ah ha!!! That explains much!!! (I'm learning this right along with you!)  And NOW I see the importance of this guy! I do wonder why the day has become an international holiday and my guess is b/c Catholicism infiltrated so many countries, bringing their beliefs and holidays with them. 

So, maybe I'm a little less "bah humbug" about the holiday.  It has some good history behind it that makes it a day worth noting. However, like so many other religious festivals it has turned into something trite and secular, providing excuses to overindulge and maybe that's what rubs me wrong....  the Easter Bunny packaged as a marshmallow and coated in waxy chocolate? Really?  This is what we celebrate on the day we were set free from nasty sin that clutters our lives and causes us to be slaves to things that God originally meant for our good? Santa Claus and his impossible mission around the world and down chimneys in one night?  Isn't easier to believe that Christ was born to teach us, love us  and die for us, ultimately saving us?  Leprechauns?  Old St Patty is probably rolling in his grave to see that all his hard work of bringing people to the one true God has lead to a celebration of that which he was trying to discredit!  

I'm only opposed to these things in that they get in the way of what was initially celebrated. It makes me wonder why people who don't believe in God couldn't get creative enough to come up with their own holidays on different days but had to steal the Christian holidays and make them into something they're not.

I digress....

What I do love about the Irish. and am willing to celebrate, is their lilting talk, their love of life, their love for camaraderie, their fighting spirit, their undying devotion to those they love, and their unwavering patriotism!  To these I raise my glass of warm Guiness and say "Cheers!! Long live Ireland!" And "Cheers to Saint Patty!! A man brave enough to escape from his captors only to return in order to love them!" (At least that's how I hope he led them to God!!)

I'll shut up now, except to leave you with this well-know and loved Irish Blessing that I adopted long ago b/c it's so poetic and.... just what you would hope for a friend!  Even if it's as soon as tomorrow that you would see them!!!

Happy St Patty's Day, Friends!!!

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

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