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St Patricks Day Traditions
Jesus Christ spent around 30 years in
Palestine (what is now Israel) around the year 1AD. His ministry
must have been extraordinary, for his followers spread rapidly
across the known world with the message that he had taught. The
early missions around the eastern Mediterranean are chronicled in
the book of Acts in the Bible, as well as the letters of St Paul.
Despite widespread persecution under the Romans, during which time
thousands of Christians were thrown to the lions or crucified, the
Roman Empire ultimately adopted Christianity as its religion. From
the Mediterranean it spread northwards into Gaul and it reached
Ireland around the late 300s or early 400s.
The first recorded missionary to
Ireland was Palladius, who was probably from Gaul [France]. He was
sent by the Pope to be bishop to the "Irish who believe in
Christ". Patrick himself stated that Palladius' mission was a
failure. However, other historical documents from outside Ireland
indicate that the mission of Palladius was very successful, at least
in Laigin (Leinster), and that he set up a number of churches. .
Tradition says that Palladius' visit to Ireland was in the year 431.
St Patrick Perhaps the most famous
missionary to Ireland was St Patrick. However, a small point of
caution is needed here . It is widely believed by historians that
the missions of St Patrick were embellished and enshrined by
Patrick's monastery at Armagh in their (ultimately successful) bid
for primacy over the church in Ireland. In creating what is referred
to as the 'Cult of Patrick', Armagh exaggerated the importance of
Patrick and diminished the importance of the other missionaries,
possibly even attributing some of the work of these other
missionaries to Patrick. That said, St Patrick is such an important
part of Irish culture that it would be a mistake to ignore him.
We know very little for certain about
Patrick. According to his own "Confession", he was born in
Roman Britain - probably near Hadrian's Wall in northern England -
the son of a wealthy official. His mother may have come from Gaul
[France]. When he was 16, sometime in the early 400s, he was
kidnapped by an Irish raiding party and sold into slavery in
Ireland. As Roman Britain collapsed, it was increasingly common for
Irish, Pict and Saxon raiders to pillage its coastal settlements and
it seems that Patrick fell victim to one of these raids. Patrick
worked as a slave for 6 years tending sheep, traditionally believed
to be on Slemish Mountain, county Antrim, but it seems possible that
he was, in fact, somewhere near the Atlantic Ocean in county Mayo or
Patrick says in his Confession that
he discovered God during his time of captivity, and took to praying
a hundred times a day. After 6 years, Patrick managed to escape from
captivity, walked the 200 miles to the east coast and managed to
negotiate passage aboard a trading ship to Gaul [France]. There, he
probably trained to be a Christian Priest and spent time in Auxerre.
He then received prophetic dreams where he heard the people of
Ireland near the 'western sea' call him to come and walk among them
again. He then travelled to Ireland as a missionary, and it seems
that he never left. The year traditionally given is 432, but it
seems more likely to have been around 460 .
Patrick concentrated his work in
north-east Ireland, and his first church was at Saul, near
present-day Downpatrick. He preached to the Kings and their
households and met with varied levels of success. One of his methods
was to 'Christianize' the Celtic Pagan festivals. For example,
Patrick reputedly lit an Easter bonfire on Slane Hill near the Hill
of Tara while the King was having his own Pagan bonfire there. The
King was enraged, but he took the opportunity to preach and managed
to make some converts. He is famously said to have used the 3-leaved
Shamrock to explain the concept of the Trinity: God as the Father,
Son and Holy Spirit (although this story is almost certainly a
myth). Patrick died in Ireland and is traditionally believed to be
buried on the Hill of Down in Downpatrick, county Down. A stone
marking the traditional burial spot was added in 1901 and the site
is now a popular tourist attraction.
Excerpts taken from http://www.irelandstory.com/past/main.html
Many people will be eating Irish food
such as Irish Stew and Corned Beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's Day.
Corned Beef is not an Irish dish. It is what Americans think the
Irish eat. A more traditional meal would be ham and cabbage or bacon
and cabbage. Some say that in Ireland on St. Patrick's Day the
traditional green beer is prominent. However, in Ireland, many years
ago, St. Patrick's Day is considered a holy day and Pubs were not
open for business. There were no parades, no drinking or wearing
green. Green was considered an unlucky color.
Some other Irish Traditions:
The Blarney Stone is a stone set in
the wall of the Blarney Castle tower in the Irish village of
Blarney. Kissing the stone is supposed to bring the kisser the gift
of persuasive eloquence. The legend says that an old woman cast a
spell on the stone to reward a king who had saved her from drowning.
Kissing the stone while under the spell gave the king the ability to
speak sweetly and convincingly. It's difficult reach the stone.
Kissers have to lie on their back and bend backward or downward,
holding iron bars for support.
Some Irish Superstitions:
Moon, moon tell unto me,
When my true love I shall see?
What fine clothes am I to wear?
How many children will I bear?
For if my love comes not to me,
Dark and dismal my life will be.
This verse, recited by a maiden as
she gathered special herbs by the light of the first full moon of
the new year, could reveal a future husband and cause the girl to
have a true dream about the man--if she first complied with certain
requirements. With a black-handled knife she had to cut out three
pieces of earth, bring them home, tie them in her left stocking, and
secure the bundle with her right garter. The completed package then
had to be placed upon her pillow.
When yawning, make the sign of the
cross instantly over your mouth, or the evil spirit will make a rush
down and take up his abode with you.
It is unlucky to offer your right
hand in salutation, for thee is an old say, "A curse with the
left hand to those we hate, but the right hand to those we
If the palm of your hand itches you
will be getting money; if the elbow, you will be changing beds.
- Breaking a mirror brought seven years of bad luck,
while two people washing hands in the same basin at the same time
More Great Irish Ideas:
1 shot Irish Whiskey
1 tbsp Sugar
6 oz. Coffee
Whipped Cream for garnish
Pre-warm a stemmed glass. Add the
Add the sugar and stir in the coffee.
Float the whipped cream on top.
Drink the coffee through the cream.
Do not stir after adding the cream.