This weekend much of the western world celebrated St. Patrick’s day by wearing green, drinking copious pints of green beer, and listening to Irish music bands with names like The O’Malleys and Toad in the Hole.
Bands who, one night a year, are fought over by dive bar booking agents who could care less about them the other 364.(i know this, because i am in a band too. A rock band. Not an Irish band. Which means dive bar booking agents could care less about us for 365 nights a year. Oh, to be an Irish clogging band!)
All these shenanigans amount to one wild rainbow ride of good cheer and good times but exactly what is it that we are celebrating? Well a quick trip to mine and Siri’s favorite source of all things, Wikipedia, led to other sites with facts actually based on research, and from there i learned all there is to know about ol’ St. Patty.
Which isn’t much.
Turns out, Patrick, or Maewynn Succat, as his mommy and daddy knew him, is a bit of a mystery. He was either born or died on March 17th. Or not. There’s great argument over when and where he died and which Irish township actually has his dead body in their graveyard. (i picture scores of brawny, drunken men in Irish pubs tossing their Guinness back and shouting, spitting foam, “An’ i say ‘e ‘as BORN on da bloody seventeenth!!” “Nah, ‘e DIED on da bloody seventeenth!! An’ right ‘ere! In dis bloody tavern!!”)
Maewynn’s birth-day may be an argument, but his birth-year is even more mysterious.
The closest historians can guess is around 375AD. Of course, the same site states he also may have been born around 415 AD. Where he was born is also unknown. But it is believed his parents were Roman and possibly lived in Scotland, where they enjoyed some amount of colonial status, at the time of Maewynn’s auspicious birth.
As a teen, (who knows what year), the youth was kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland to herd and tend sheep. Whaaa? PIRATES? I imagine Jack Sparrow nabbing the wee lad and putting him to work scrubbing the deck of the Black Swan. (My knowledge of pirates is limited to Disney movies. And the Disney ride. Which happens to be my favorite ride. Especially since they added Jack Sparrow! LOVE!)
i don’t have it quite worked out just how a Roman in Scotland got himself nabbed by Johnny Depp and then sold to sheepherders in Ireland (i mean…isn’t Ireland just right there? Like how far did the Black Swan actually go before they decided to dump the kid? What? Was he difficult? Annoying? Constantly asking ‘When arrr’ we a’gonna git der?’ (Sorry if i just offended pirates/Romans/Scots everywhere for that but i’m really trying hard to channel a teenage Roman punk born in Scotland on a pirate ship bound for Ireland.))
Anyhoo…somehow he ends up sold into slavery as a sheepherder in Ireland. For 6 years.
Then, as a young adult, who KNOWS what year, (i’ve given up trying to figure that out. That’s a thought process for another night. And a lot of Guinness.) he dreams God tells him to go to the coast and a ship will be waiting for him to sail to Britain. So, he listens to the voice in his dream, makes it to the coast and escapes by ship. I swear i am not making this up! It’s the next Pirates of the Caribbean!
The story gets a little fuzzy here, but it is believed he did stop by and say hi to the folks before he ended up in France. He decided that God-dream voice was the real meal deal and he went to France, became a Christian priest and changed his name to Patrick.
Well, our Roman/Scot/Irish/French guy is now solidly an adult (Again..not drunk enough to hazard a year here) when he dreams again, and God tells him to go back to Ireland – that the people were calling out for him. I’m imagining it went something like this – “Where in da bloody ‘ell is dat slave boy!?! Dem sheep don’t ‘erd demselves!” And so Maewynn/Patrick went BACK to Ireland.
Here is about where i decided i really did need something to drink – i mean…really? The dude went BACK? A couple of glasses of shiraz and i went back to reading, where i learned that he went back to Ireland, travelled the country and taught Christianity. He is credited for bringing Christianity to Ireland and converting all the little drunken heathens. The date for Ireland’s official conversian to Christianity is cited as 432AD. So…if you are still with me and can do a little math, maybe you can count back and figure out a more realistic birth date. Either way, it is believed by at least half of the Guinness-fueled historians down at the local tavern that he died in 460AD. Actual place is unknown and highly debated (see paragraph 3) but it MIGHT be Saul, Downpatrick.
So, i’m three glasses in, done with the history lesson and i have yet to learn anything about the color green.
Or leprechauns! Or a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?? i mean..where are me Lucky Charms?? And what about the snakes?? i distinctly remember something about driving the snakes out of Ireland??
Well, here is where we learn that maybe ol’ Patty’s schooling of the heathens might not have completely taken and some of this story might be just as plausible as abundant wealth lying in a kettle at the “end” of a weather-induced optical illusion. Because mixed up in this colonial tale of a religious takeover of a country, lies old country beliefs of evil fairies and mischievous leprechauns. It seems that there’s a strong, old belief that these out-for-no-good little creatures will get all up in your business unless you are wearing green. They HATE green. So, we pinch folks not wearing green on that day to remind them that there’s the boogeyman out there who is gonna get you. And as for snakes? Well, it turns out that there are no snakes in Ireland. (Don’t tell my mom! She’ll move there in a heartbeat! She HATES snakes!) Historians think the “snakes” are a metaphor for the pagans St. Patrick swore to convert.
At this point, i was too sleepy (and out of wine) to find out what the deal is with the ATM rainbow thing. But if you find it – will you clue me in? Baby needs a retirement plan!!