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.
The REAL History of Saint Patrick and his day...
If you are a true American, than you are most likely a mongrel like everyone else. If you are a mongrel, than you probably have some Irish blood in your past. There are very few pure-blooded people in the United States of America from the "old country". Considering that most of us have a bit of the old "Erin Go Bragh" in our veins, there is no reason at all why each and every one of us shouldn't enjoy a green-tinted beer on St. Patrick's day while we smile and listen to the bag-pipes play.There are some myths and legends about St. Patrick's Day that need to be banished into the realms of Urban Myth where they belong. As a race of partial Irish decendents, I demand that we educate ourselves on the bits of history of which we are all horribly ignorant. Don't you want to know why you're getting smashed on March 17th this year? Of course you do. Get ready for your history lesson.
St. Patrick was born sometime around 385 AD, probably somewhere near Wales. That's right. St. Patrick was originally British. He was born as the son of a Roman official, and was taken prisoner by sea-faring raiders. He was sold into slavery in Ireland and began a very lonely career as a sheep-herding slave-boy that lasted for six years before he had a vision from God telling him to escape.
St. Patrick escaped to Britain where he promptly had another vision from God, where the people of Ireland begged him to return to help them. He went to France to study seminary, after which he returned to the Emerald Isles to spread the Good Word of God.
St. Patrick spent the last 30 years of his life there, involving himself with fervent activities that furthered human interests before the term was even thought of. He baptised pagans and ordained hundreds of priests into the Catholic faith. He oversaw the construction of monastaries and worked to abolish horrible, pagan practices (such as human sacrifices and slavery). Because of St. Patrick's administrations, it only took 200 years for Ireland to convert to Christianity and was the only example of non-violent conversion in all of Europe.
There are many things that St. Patrick did not do, that many people believe that he did. There was never a time when St. Patrick chased any reptile of any kind out of Ireland. There were never any snakes in Ireland. It is sometimes believed that chasing the snakes out of Ireland is an analogy for driving paganism out of the country. He also never made the comparison of the Holy Trinity to a shamrock, which was actually credited to someone in the 18th century. Of course, St. Patrick never had a personal conversation with God to bargin Ireland's freedom for all eternity. Don't be so gullible, Guiness lovers.
Since St. Patrick's exploits are very minimally recorded, he has become a symbol for anyone who can make up a believable story about his mythos. Catholics tout his acomplishments with the Catholic Church while Protestants dress him up as a Celtic monk who developed his own anti-Roman church. It is shameful that there are more untruthful stories about the history of St. Patrick than there are real facts about him.
For a millinium, Ireland has celebrated St. Patrick's Day festivities with a humble meal after Mass services. It took good 'ol America to turn St. Patrick's day into the alcohol drenched drink-fest that it is today. The first St. Patrick's Day parade took place only 16 years after the Declaration of Independance was signed. Most of the Irish in America at that time were members of the Protestant Middle Class, and fit into society quite well. It wasn't until the Great Potato Famine of 1845 that Irish prejudices flared up because of the newcomers' thick accents and Catholic faith. During the St Patrick's Day celebrations during this time, people looked down on the way the Irish took to the streets and reveled with booze and partying. This was the time when St. Patrick's Day stopped being such a religious occasion and started resembling what it is today: a massive party. The media made a point to deride these activities and depicted Irish revelers as little more than drunken monkeys in the street.
The poor, lower class of Irish had trouble finding jobs and the vast majority of immigrants lived in poverty and squalor. It took time for the Irish community to come to the realization that they held value to society, because of their vast numbers. They organized themselves and showed the political arena that they had the ability to tip elections how they pleased. Politicians began taking an interest in Irish relations and the political "green machine" was born. This is when St. Patrick's Day celebrations started having wider recognition among the community because of the political interest involved in them as politicians catered to the Irish and participated in the parades and feasts. The crowning point of Irish political strength was in 1948 when President Truman attended the New York St. Patrick's Day Parade.
America, Canada, and Australia are the biggest celebrators of the holiday, with minor observerances in Japan, Russia, and Singapore. Ireland has always observed the holiday in strict religious terms, even mandating that pubs be closed on March 17th. Recently, Ireland has decided to use the holiday to spur tourism. Over a million people attended Dublin's St. Patrick's Day celebrations over a long, multi-day event that featured parades, concerts, and fireworks.
And A Curse
May those who love us love us.
And those that don't love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn't turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles,
So we'll know them by their limping.