Thursday, March 16, 2006

St Patricks Day

St. Patty’s Day is a fun holiday. It’s not an official holiday at work, but I often take a day’s vacation. I’m not Irish though my wife Jilda has a lot of Irish blood in her family. Each year we invite a few friends over to eat Corned Beef and Cabbage and we listen to Celtic music and drink Guinness Beer. When the guests have left for home, we watch Darby O’Gill and the Little People. It was one of Sean Connery’s first movies…back when he had hair. We also watch “The Matchmaker” which is a beautiful movie set in modern day Ireland. Jilda and I traveled to Ireland a few years ago and we both fell in love with the country and its people. We chose not to take a tour but instead we got off the plane and I got in the passenger side of an Opel and drove into a lush green and flowering landscape. People asked if it was weird driving on the wrong side of the road. I reminded them that I lived in Walker County where it is the custom to drive on the wrong side of the road and they usually nod with understanding.We had the good fortune to play a few gigs with Dan Crary who is a world class and world famous guitarist. We also played in pubs in small towns and communities all across the island. The Irish love music and we’d take a guitar in a place and ask the barkeeper if we could play a few songs and they’d say “sure you will. That would be brilliant.” The odd thing about playing there is that when you are in a true Irish pub and you start to play, the crowd grows quite….they listen. The only place where that did not happen was a pub that was frequented by tourists.We found the people of Ireland quite remarkable. They were extremely intelligent and they knew more US politics than most Americans. The people we met were charming, thoughtful, gracious and kind. They made us feel at home.So on St. Patty’s Eve, I want to give you’re a short history of St. Patrick’s day. Enjoy and my you have the Luck of the Irish.
Saint Patrick was the missionary credited with converting the Irish to Christianity in the late 300’s A.D.
Historical sources report that Saint Patrick was not even Irish! He was born around 373 A.D. in either Scotland or in Roman Britain (the Romans left Britain in 410 A.D.). His real name is believed to have been Maewyn Succat, but he changed it to Patrick after he became a priest. At the age of 16, while living in Ireland, he was kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery.
During his 6-year captivity, he worked as a shepherd. He found strength in his faith. He finally escaped and made it to France, where he became a priest (and later a bishop).
When he was about 60 years old, St. Patrick traveled back to Ireland to spread the Christian word. He used the green shamrock, which resembles a three-leafed clover, as a metaphor to explain the concept of the Trinity - father, son, and holy spirit. The Irish people embraced him. The old saint died in his beloved Ireland, March 17th, about 460 A.D. The land which once enslaved him, he had set free.
Today, Saint Patrick's Day is a basically a time to wear green and party. The first American celebration of Saint Patrick's Day was in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1737. As the saying goes, on this day "everybody is Irish!" Over 100 U.S. cities now hold Saint Patrick's Day parades, the largest held in New York City.

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