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Yes, it is true. St. Patrick really wasn't Irish at all! Shocked? According to my sources, St. Patrick was born March 17, around 385 AD in Scotland. (Note: Other sources say that he died on March 17 and that the day a person dies is the "holy day" and thus becomes a saint's holiday celebration.)
father was an Italian named Calpurnius, who was said to be crafty in war and an
official for the Roman government. His mother is assumed to be
Scottish. His real name was Maewyn, but he called himself "Patricius"
which in Latin meant well-born. One day a band of Irish pirates captured
him and sold him into slavery. As a slave, he was a shepherd. After
6 yrs. of slavery he is said to have had a vision telling him "Thy ship is
ready for thee."
After escaping, he is said to lived in Europe, but scholars differ on the locations. It is rumored that while he lived in France, he decided to become a monk and devote himself to God. It was during this time he is said to have had another vision to go back to Ireland and "convert the pagans to Christianity." (Let me say that at that time the so-called pagans were actually the Celts and the Scandinavians, who had given Ireland it's original name of Irlanda.)
Why were the Celts and Scandinavians considered the pagans, when the real pagans (by today's definition) were the Romans who at that time worshiped many Gods? It has to do with the foundation of the Norse Mythology and the Celtic Religion basing itself of the love of nature as a God. People have a tendency to scream "pagan" if they don't agree or understand another groups beliefs. This is what happened back then. The Celts felt that people were as much an element of the Earth as were the plants and animals. Because they did not worship a Deity like the Romans, the Romans falsely spread rumors that the Celts, Druids etc. were pagans. I might also add that this was a convenient excuse (just like in other situations like Cortez and the Incas) for the Romans to pillage the Celtic wealth.
Although the Romans pillaged the Celts, I need to clarify that the Romans never conquered Ireland! At the time, from one map I saw, Ireland was called Hibernia. And the Romans never conquered that area. Below is a map of the Roman Empire. If you notice, Ireland is not included. However, there still are some who say that St. Patrick was a Roman citizen because his Father was a Roman, even though Ireland, Scotland and Wales are not shown as being in the Roman Empire on this map. Here is a Link to an article that addresses whether St. Patrick was Italian and a Roman. Link I won't be definitive on this. You decide.
I did not create this map. It's on several websites and I do not know who the authentic source is.
The Celts were more scientists and their priests (Druids) were the ones who performed their various nature ceremonies. These people are credited with inventing the telescope, and thus in some people's eyes they "magically put the moon in your hand."
Evidence also shows that some of the apostles such as St. Peter and St. Paul, with 20,000 other Christians escaped Roman persecution and fled towards the Britons (part of Scotland) and created the first Christian Church there. So....that means that by the time St. Patrick showed up to "convert the pagans" well, there were already Christians there doing the job too. Thus, St. Patrick wasn't the first Christian in Ireland at all.
St. Patrick belonged to the Culdee Church (Celtic) when he began his work as a missionary revivalist. St. Patrick never attempted to stamp out old Irish rites. Instead, he blended them with the Christian customs. An example is the Christian Spring Bonfire of the Celts. St. Patrick introduced the ritual of the Easter Bonfire for the churches.
The Christian church of Ireland, as founded by St. Patrick, existed approximately 700 years FREE and independent from England. It is not my intention to make this a Catholic or Roman-bashing page. Nor a page of religious history. But St. Patrick is called a saint, not because he drove snakes out of Ireland, but because it was a Catholic convenience to keep the Irish people under control when the Christian Church of Ireland feel into the hands of the Roman Pontiff around 1172.
did the rumor that St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland originate?
Some scholars feel that when the Norsemen from the Scandinavian countries invaded Irlanda, (Irleand) they misheard the name "Patrick" as their Scandinavian word "Paudrid" which means Expeller of Toads. Thus, the Norsemen looked around and because they saw no Toads or Snakes decided that their "Paudrid" must have really done his job well and so they credited "Paudrd" (aka Patrick) with making Ireland snake and toad free. Science now proves (biologists) beyond doubt, that there really were no snakes or toads in Ireland prior to and during St. Patrick's time.
St. Patrick is said to have died in 464, at the age of approximately 79 years old. At that time, the entire country went into mourning.
Other Fun Folklore, Legends and Historical Irish Facts
First of all, do you know there are more people born of Irish descent in the United States than their are in Ireland? And, St. Patrick's Day is more popular here than it is over there also.
Colors & The
Magic of 3
Drinking & Food
The most important thing about celebrating St. Patrick's day is that you don't have to be Irish to do it.
The Irish seem to adopt everyone as family on March 17 and for one day, the world seems to all become one big happy Irish family!
The most popular food, besides beer, to be consumed on St. Patrick's Day is corned beef and cabbage. Other traditional Irish foods eaten in the US are mulligatawny soup, Irish stew and Irish soda bread. In Ireland, the preferred dish is colcannon (made from mashed potatoes with shredded kale, minced onions and melted butter.)
So why of all the fairies, is the leprechaun included with St. Patrick? Some believe it's his green outfit, which was suppose to camouflage him. But the ones on St. Patrick's Day cards are representative not of shoemakers, but of farmers or owners of pots of gold at the end of rainbows.
The first St. Patrick's Day parade was held in Boston in 1737. The potato famine of 1845-49 brought thousands of Irish immigrants to the US. So, they used St. Patrick's Day to express their ethnic heritage pride with parades, banquets, pageants and dancing. People wore green and displayed shamrocks. Some flew the Irish flag with the harp. In Ireland it's not as rowdy at all. Many stay home and watch the New York St. Patrick's Day parade on TV. But in Ireland they don't drink green beer, or wear green derbies (an English invention) nor do they put green carnations in the lapels. With some people, they also choose to wear the Scottish Thistle as an emblem.
The New York City parade is the largest and most celebrated. It began in 1763 when a small group of Irish settlers banded together and followed each other from one tavern to the next. Such informal marches became more organized after the Revolutionary War when a veteran's group "The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick" began advertising their ancestry on March 17. As more immigrants poured into New York, the parade grew in number and popularity.
Patrick's Day parades are held all over the US since it's a US
The shamrock is the most popular symbol of the Irish. It looks like a 3-leaved clover. It is the English name for it's Gaelic name of "seamrog" dating back to 1707. St. Patrick is said to have been standing in a field of shamrocks when he drove the snakes and toads away. Because it has 3 leaves, but it still one plant, many Catholics revere it as a symbol of the holy trinity.
The 4 leaves of the shamrock are said to symbolize as follows:
Leaf = Hope
The first reference to wearing a shamrock on the lapel of a coat on Saint Feast Day dates back to 1681. In the 1770's, during the time of Grattan's Parliament, the shamrock became an emblem by the Irish Volunteers. It became a symbol of rebellion to the degree that Queen Victoria forbade Irish regiments to wear it. During this time, however, civilians wore a green and red paper crosses. The shamrock may be a symbol of Ireland, but it also been woven into the United Kingdom as well; along with the rose, thistle and the leek (also Scotland and Wales). Today, it's no longer considered rebellious to wear a shamrock. And, the Irish Guards of the British Army are presented with a shamrock by the Royal Family on St. Patrick's Day.
Drinking Irish Coffee on St. Patrick's Day really isn't an Irish custom at all because it doesn't go back as far in time as other customs like the shamrock for instance. (Well, I guess one could argue that green beer doesn't go back for centuries either and it's a tradition.)
So, when was Irish coffee invented? What is
the origin of Irish coffee?
It all depends on which story you want to believe. Some say that it was invented 34 years ago in the Shannon Airport bar in Western Ireland. The story goes.... that on March 17th a bartender, who had been out celebrating the holiday, came to work a bit hung-over. To help him feel better, he poured a bit of whiskey into his coffee. Then he gave it to some of his customers to try. They all liked it! And so word got around and well....
Others claim that it was another "San Francisco Treat" and invented 27 years ago at the Buena Vista Cafe (near the bottom of the Leavenworth Street cable car line.) The story goes... Stanley Delaplane, a travel writer and columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, had been one of the customers at the Shannon Airport Bar. When he got back to San Francisco, he told the bartender at the Buena Vista Cafe how to make a glass of Irish Whiskey for him. Soon, the Buena Vista Cafe started promoting it for all their customers. It grew so popular that within time, the Buena Vista Cafe claims to be the sole originator of this drink. And, in doing so, they also sell their own Irish Coffee set, complete with the recipe and their version of the story.
So, how do you make Irish Coffee? Well, this is the recipe that is said to be the only real authentic one:
TRADITIONAL IRISH COFFEE
5 ounces of hot, boiling water
Get an 8 ounce clear glass mug and
put a spoon in it.
Quickly! Pour in the fresh, hot
coffee! Then put in the brown sugar.
St. Patrick's Day isn't necessarily noted for stress and phobias like some of the other holidays we have. If there are any, they are extremely rare. But some examples of a St. Patrick's Day phobia could be chromatophobia - the fear of colors or of green. St. Patrick's Day parades can induce those who have ochilophobia - the fear of crowds or phonophobia - the fear of loud noises and loud yelling to become stressed out. Ironically, there has never been any reported incident of mythophobia - the fear of lying. I guess because of kissing that blarney stone? :)
For some folklore and history regarding the potato, visit our Potato Folklore page.
Visit our Real Gaelic, Celtic or Irish Horoscope Page by clicking this button.
"Ode to Whiskey"
(If you are underage, don't listen!)
Sources: Holiday Symbols, 2nd Edition, Sue Ellen Thompson
Omnigraphics, Inc. 2000
Holiday Folklore, Phobias and Fun, Donald E. Dossey, Ph.D
Outcomes Unlimited Press, Inc. © 1992
Celebrates" by Henning Cohen and Tristram Potter Coffin
Visible Ink Press © 1991
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