Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy Saint Paddy's Day! Irish: Lá ’le Pádraig or Lá Fhéile Pádraig

So today is Saint Patrick's Day...
Of which my experiences as a Canadian seem to point to this being a day that anyone who has any small or large amount of Irish in them, get right riled up and green with the excitement.

Some people have even been known to run around pretending there are leprechaun's (Tuatha Dé Danann) hiding behind every tree. This is of course an excuse to pinch the bum of any passerby who isn't wearing green, while blaming it on the leprechauns. The Canadian version of the legends say that if you don't wear green, your bum is going to be pinched by the wee folk.

Other Canadians take this as an excuse to go see the parade, cheer alot and get drunk at an Irish pub. So all in all, I am not totally sure what we are celebrating, but it largely seems to be all about being Irish.

I know for Christian Irish, this is a sacred day. The story goes that today is the day that Saint Patrick chased all the snakes out of Ireland. My pagan friends tell me the snakes are a metaphor for the pagans and that by being chased out, they were either converted or murdered.

I don't know the exact truth of things, but this is what Wikipedia has to say about the subject (excerpts);

"Saint Patrick (Irish: Naomh Pádraig), was a Roman Britain-born Christian missionary and is the patron saint of Ireland along with Brigid of Kildare and Columba. When he was about 16, he was captured by Irish raiders and taken from his native Wales as a slave to Ireland, where he lived for six years before escaping and returning to his family. After entering the church, he later returned to Ireland as a missionary in the north and west of the island... no link can be made between Patrick and any church..."

"Most modern studies of Saint Patrick follow a variant of T. F. O'Rahilly's "Two Patricks" theory. That is to say, many of the traditions later attached to Saint Patrick originally concerned Palladius, a deacon from Gaul who came to Ireland..." "Palladius and Patrick; ... what we now know of St. Patrick was in fact in part a conscious effort to meld the two into one hagiographic personality.."

"Murchiú's life of Saint Patrick contains a supposed prophecy by the druids which gives an impression of how Patrick and other Christian missionaries were seen by those hostile to them:
Across the sea will come Adze-head,
crazed in the head,
his cloak with hole for the head,
his stick bent in the head.
He will chant impieties from a table in the front of his house;
all his people will answer: "so be it, so be it." "

Patrick in legend "... all evidence suggests that post-glacial Ireland never had snakes; one suggestion is that snakes referred to the serpent symbolism of the Druids of that time and place..."

"Blue, not green, was the colour long-associated with St. Patrick. Green, the colour most widely associated with Ireland, with Irish people, and with St. Patrick's Day in modern times, may have gained its prominence through the phrase "the wearing of the green" meaning to wear a shamrock on one's clothing. At many times in Irish history, to do so was seen as a sign of Irish nationalism or loyalty to the Roman Catholic faith. St. Patrick used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pre-Christian Irish."

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