St. Patrick's Day
Lá Fhéile Pádraig, the Irish call it ... the Feast of Saint Patrick. It's both a cultural and religious holiday celebrated on 17 March each year, commemorating the death date of Ireland's patron saint, St. Patrick, (c. 385-461AD) and the arrival of Christianity to Ireland. It's also a salute to Irish heritage and culture and you certainly don't have to be Irish to participate.
According to one historical reference, "St. Patrick was born c.385 AD in Kilkpatrick, Scotland, and his real name was Macwyn. At the age of sixteen he was captured by Irish marauders (but some historians disagree and believe it was British guards) and was made slave of a Druid chieftain." He escaped, made his way to Europe and joined the monastery of St Martin in France where he studied to become a priest and subsequently a bishop. In 432 AD, Pope Celestine I changed Macwyn's name to Patricius and sent him on a mission to Ireland.
There are several legends associated with St. Patrick. Did he really chase the snakes out of Ireland? Literally, no. There probably weren't any snakes in Ireland. Figuratively, the Druids considered snakes sacred, and St. Pat's conversion of folks from paganism to Christianity is considered "driving out the snakes".
Did he use the iconic 3-leaved shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to new converts? Unlikely, but it's a good myth and does demonstrate quite nicely the concept of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, all part of the one God.
St. Pat is also credited with the creation of the Irish Celtic Cross. He took a familiar pagan circle, symbolic of the sun and moon gods and added a cross. He showed himself willing to adapt pagan practices and symbols to Christian beliefs in order to ease the transition from paganism to Christianity.
Folks celebrate around the world. They drink green beer and eat corned beef and cabbage. In Chicago, they die the Chicago River green and ever since 2009, the north fountain of the White House is dyed green as well.
Since we rarely miss an opportunity to celebrate, how will we spend St. Patrick's Day? Well, there will be no corned beef and cabbage, I'm afraid and there's nary a drop of Jameson's Irish Whiskey aboard nor Bailey's Irish Cream, for that matter. David might bake up a loaf of Irish Soda Bread. Or, if we have a good weather window and we're at sea, the only green we might be wearing is that dastardly shade of green we turn when we're seasick. Whatever … we'll celebrate in spirit. Happy St. Pat's Day!
By the way, what's your leprechaun name? We're Greenie and Bunyon O'Bourbon.