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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  What does St. Patrick's Day mean to most American's and to myself?  I think that is what I will write about today.

In the USA, no matter what your national origin is, most people celebrate in some way on St. Patrick's day.  In various places, you see it indicated as St. Paddy's Day.  We eat lots of corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes on this day and drink green beer.  I'm sure the Irish in Ireland question where we got those ideas.  We also put beer in our Guinness and call it a black and tan.  St. Paddy's day is also filled with partying and overdoing it in that realm at times.  Even in the midst of Lent, the Catholic Church allows you to eat meat on a Friday when it happens to be March 17th, in honor of St. Patrick's Day.  Even the Catholic Church makes exceptions.

As a kid, corned beef and cabbage was very much on the menu at my house.  My mom would also make her Irish Soda bread.  I will have to ask her for the recipe and find out who she got it from.  It is not a Martha Stewart recipe.

My senior year of high school was spent at the newly combined St. Patrick-St. Vincent High School in Vallejo, California.  What that meant was, we got St. Patrick's day off.  Never had I experienced that before or since.  In the USA, the day which honors the patron saint of Ireland, is important but not offered as a bank holiday.  At least not in the west.  The Catholic Schools can do their own thing though and so we had that day off to honor the patron saint of Ireland and our school's namesake.
So who was St. Patrick?  He was a Christain Missionary in Ireland.  I find it interesting that two letters from him survive.  He started out in Ireland as a slave who had been captured by Irish raiders in Briton in the 4th century.  Not much is truly known about him except what has been handed down in legend.  He did enter the church.  Volumes have been written about the man.  Some is fact based in research and some is folklore based in legend.  I do like the legend, myself.

St. Patrick banished the snakes from Ireland and brought Christianity to the masses.  According to Wikipedia, St. Patrick was never cannonized as a saint by the Pope.  What?  Really?  His name shows up all over the place for Catholic Churches.  I am not afraid to say this:  Maybe the Vatican needs to get their act together and venerate him after all of these years.  He is the partion saint of Ireland and let's just say that the American's really honor him too!

Anyway, back to modern day.  I recently went to my daughter's Sunday School class to teach them some songs.  I met a little boy named Patrick.  I asked him if he knew that St. Patrick saved Ireland.  He said cheerfully that he did.  He seemed to know a little bit about the origins of his first name.  That says a lot for a Kindergartener.  Locally, I rarely come across a child in recent generations with the name of Patrick.  Whenever I see him now, he says "hi" to me.  I am probably known to him as the parent who teaches the class songs as opposed to the parent who knows where his first name originates.

I find this name repeatedly in my own family tree.  Patrick is quite a fine name.

I could not let St. Patrick's Day go by without a post and a happy wish to all.   Remember, everyone is Irish on March 17th!

At the Guinness St. James Gate Brewery, Dublin, Ireland - c.2004

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