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St. Patrick: Truth, or Blarney?
Posted: 3/16/2012 | Creativity Comments
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It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day, and here in New York it’s a huge holiday. Thousands of people hold this day sacred as they remember their Irish ancestry. There are also thousands without a drop of Irish blood who use it as a good excuse to tie one on. The St. Patrick’s Day parade is one of the biggest of the year, and folks flock to pubs in droves to show off their green, drink whiskey and beer and pretend their Irish.

As far as I know I’m not Irish, and through the years, for the most part, I liked the green color shamrocks and Leprechauns. However, as a child I remember once I forgot to wear green to grammar school and got pinched repeatedly, arriving home with St. Patty’s Day bruises. I still have some trauma around that and always make sure I have green on every year. Pinching, why was that part of the tradition? 
So, who is St. Patrick, anyway, and why did he get so popular? 
This is a saint shrouded in mystery, in part because he lived in the third century. The story goes he was captured as a boy in Wales and sent to Ireland as a slave. Forced to be a shepherd, he wandered the hillsides in isolation, turning to religion for solace. Later he escaped and returned home, but he was plagued by dreams in which the Irish people called to him, asking to be converted to Christianity. And so he returned to do just that.
That’s a pretty big feat in itself, given that at that time Ireland was steeped in nature-based Paganism, and I’m sure it wasn’t easy for people to make the switch. But that’s not all he accomplished. Legend has it that St. Patrick drove the snakes into the sea with his staff. We can assume this is symbolic, because evidence suggests Ireland never had snakes to begin with. They are not known to swim across an ocean to invade an island.
St. Patrick is also said to have used the Shamrock as an illustration for the trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Maybe, but the Pagans used the Shamrock prior to that to illustrate the “triple Goddesses,” rebirth and eternal life.  
Another story has St. Patrick drive his staff, made of Ash, into the ground where it became alive and sprouted leaves. This was possibly meant to emphasize the extensive time it took to persuade that particular region to give up their Paganism. 
I’m a mongrel. From what from what I know, I’m mostly English, a mix of Native American, French-Canadian, possibly Dutch and probably others. We, the product of the melting pot, don’t have a day devoted specifically to our heritage. We don’t get the parade, the hats, the little people leading us to pots of gold. Maybe that’s why they claim, here in New York, that on St. Patty’s Day, everybody’s Irish. Sounds good to me! I’m hunting for the pot of gold this year… 
Is St. Patrick’s Day a holiday you celebrate? If so how? Do you have a special day where you connect with your ancestry? Please leave a comment. It makes a difference for all of us. 

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