Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Yep folks - it's that time of year again!

And if you're not wearing something green then I'm highly disappointed in you! Are you sure you're entering into the spirit of things...hmmmm???

So let's see what I can tell you about St. Patrick's Day to get you to join the rest of the world as we celebrate all things Irish!

Shall we look at the man himself to begin with? Seems only fair, what with it being his day and all...

Saint Patrick: (Naomh Pádraig) was a Christian Missionary and is regarded a Patron Saint of Ireland along with Brigid of Kildare and Columba. Patrick was born in Britain and was about sixteen when he was captured by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Ireland, where he lived for six years before escaping and returning to his family. He entered the church, as his father and grandfather had before him, becoming a deacon and a bishop. He then later returned to Ireland as a missionary, working in the north and west of the island, and by using Monasteries as the center for his missionary work had great success in the conversion of Ireland. By the seventh century he had become a patron saint of Ireland, and the foundations of Irish Christianity were attributed largely to him.

Now he's maybe best known for driving the snakes from Ireland. And it is true there aren't any snakes in Ireland, but, to be honest, there probably never have been - the island was separated from the rest of the continent at the end of the Ice Age. (sorry) You see, as in many old pagan religions, serpent symbols were common and often worshipped. Driving the snakes from Ireland was probably symbolic of putting an end to that pagan practice. While not the first to bring christianity to Ireland, it is Patrick who is said to have encountered the Druids at Tara and abolished those self same pagan rites. The story holds that he converted the warrior chiefs and princes, baptizing them and thousands of their subjects in the "Holy Wells" that still bear this name.

So why St Patrick’s Day? Well, it’s not just for the drinking! What?! Really it’s not! Like all things Irish there’s a touch of history to the whole thing…

Now tis true the day has come to be associated with everything Irish: anything green and gold, shamrocks and good luck - and fully grown men dressed as leprechauns - but most importantly, to those who celebrate its intended meaning, St. Patrick's Day is a traditional day for spiritual renewal and offering prayers for missionaries worldwide.

So, why is it celebrated on March 17th? One theory is that it's the day that St. Patrick died. A little bit of Irish history. And since the holiday began in Ireland, it is believed that as the Irish spread out around the world, they took with them their history and celebrations - celebrating their heritage and general Irishness - which is where the drinking part probably kicked in frankly. The biggest observance of all is, of course, in Ireland. With the exception of restaurants and pubs, almost all businesses close on March 17th. In American cities with a large Irish population, St. Patrick's Day is a very big deal, I’m told. Having been to New York and learned that they have a larger population of Irish than we do, you know - IN Ireland - I'm not a bit surprised by that. But big cities and small towns alike celebrate with parades all over the world and the "wearing of the green," music and songs, Irish food and drink, and activities for kids such as crafts, leprechaun hunts and games. Some communities even go so far as to dye rivers or streams green!

Which seems like an awful lot of work when you could be in the pub if you ask me…but still...

So how do you join the party? Well, you can of course just don something green and a sprig of shamrock, or you can go as far as a huge party at one of the parades held world-wide... But how about a wee recipe or a nice Irish coffee or a little investigation online to see if your family name is attached to this little island I call home...?

I'll even help out.

  • You can find Irish Recipes here.
  • Instructions for making Irish Coffee here.
  • Irish jokes galore here. (feel free to come back and tell me your favorite!)
  • Some Irish Singalongs here.
  • Instructions for catching Leprechauns's here.
  • Look up Irish names here.
  • Find out about Irish fairies here.
  • And the morbidly fascinated can even read about the Titanic here. (It was fine when it left us - okay?!)
Of course for those of you who want to curl up with a good Irish themed romance novel I can, of course recommend one by a really nice Irish author called Trish Wylie. (She's LOVELY btw)

Bride Of The Emerald Isle has proven a reader favorite since it came out, so if you have a copy maybe you can curl up with it for the afternoon, if you don't then it's still available from Amazon or you can buy a copy online from Eharlequin here. The back blurb says:

On the Irish Isle of Valentia wisps of cloud hang low in the air, and a rugged figure appears through the hazy mist - the man that Keelin O'Donnell has been searching for without ever realising it.

Garrett Kincaid can help beautiful stranger Keelin unlock the secrets of her past. But he can't give her his heart - he knows Keelin's life lies elsewhere.

Only the essence of the Emerald Isle is capturing Keelin, drawing her in and giving her the courage to claim a future. A future that belongs to this man.

And for the less romantic among you (Erm... you know where you are right now, right? Did you get lost on a Google search?) I bring you an Irishman's insight into the things a man is thinking when a woman asks him what he's thinking... (and yes, there's swearing involved)


I'll leave you with a traditional Irish toast:

May your glass be ever full...May the roof over your head be always strong... And may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you're dead.