Musing About Saint Patrick and His Day

Today’s blog was going to be about supremacy, racism, and human cruelty, but then my dear new friend Khanh Linh asked me about the story of Saint Patrick’s Day. In the interest of full disclosure, she only asked because I first asked her if she knew it, but she says she doesn’t. Actually, as it turns out, neither did I! How funny is that? If I were just having a conversation with Khanh Linh, I would have babbled the St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland story because that’s what I most associate with St. Patrick’s Day and with Saint Patrick himself. And then I would have admitted that this is likely to be a legend and that Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland who did many great deeds. And then I would hope she did not ask me what these deeds were.

Well, it turns out that there were never any snakes native to Ireland. So then, what about this Saint guy? Oh, he was a pagan (maybe), but he eventually became a Christian (like his father and grandfather, so maybe he wasn’t a pagan, after all?) and that meant a Catholic then (this was pre-Luther, you see. And that’s Martin Luther, not to be confused with Martin Luther King, Jr.). So anyway, back to Maewyn (as St. Patrick was called before becoming a Christian and taking the name Patrick); turns out he was a slave. This I did not know; he was sold into slavery by Irish marauders. Maybe.

Eventually, he studied to become a deacon and then a bishop. He later became a missionary in Ireland or maybe a bishop in Ireland or maybe the Bishop of Ireland, and he seems (they don’t know for sure) to have set up schools and churches and the like and converted many Irish to Christianity. He died on March 17th, 493 (or not, there’s some dispute about this and one entry in wikipedia contradicts itself, stating 493 in one place and 461 later in the same entry, but unless you’re a scholar of Christianity, Ireland, etc., I doubt it matters a great deal. Well, now. Probably mattered to him and his back then.). Anyway, he died and is still dead. So that’s that part settled. Eventually, he was sainted, then made patron saint of Ireland. And now we all wear green and drink green beer to celebrate his death that we know happened on March 17th of some year in the 400’s.

The snake thing is interesting, but it didn’t happen. And then there’s the whole raising people from the dead thing that Saint Patrick is said to have done (though I guess he was plain old Patrick then or maybe Missionary Patrick or Used to be and Quite Possibly is Bishop Patrick?), but again, not much evidence of that, either. Seems all the best people wanted to raise the dead at some point, but not too many people still believe that Saint Patrick was one who could do so (before he was sainted, obviously, as one can’t be sainted until one’s been dead for . . . well, a while. Again, not too sure about that year thing). Well, okay, so the truth is he was never formally canonized. Which means he’s not actually a saint. But he is dead. That we know for sure. Hardly anyone disagrees on that point.

So in summation, Saint Patrick is a man who was not a saint and did not scare all the snakes from Ireland, nor did he raise the dead. He probably didn’t wear green. He may have used the shamrock to describe the Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. And he may not have. But if he did, then maybe his followers adopted this as his symbol for his feast day. And maybe not. He was, though, a Christian and a member of the Church who seems almost certainly to have gone to Ireland. So . . . when’s the parade?

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(the pics turned into little white boxes with red x’s, so I deleted them, BUT I’m leaving the link below as it’s still live)

These pics were not taken by me and are of the San Fransisco St. Patrick’s Day parade from last year which I did not see. Here’s the link to the pics’ owner taker guy, who is not me and whom I do not know. Of this I am sure.

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I make light of it, but this is day of great celebration for many Irish people and people of Irish ancestry around the world: the first celebration in the United States occured in Boston, Massachusetts in 1737 (unsurprising given the large Irish population of Boston that exists to this day). Being of Irish ancestry, I can say that much of the vagueness of the holiday came as a surprise to me, but I’m not sure it matters a great deal. Not really.

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34 thoughts on “Musing About Saint Patrick and His Day

  1. You’d do anything to shudder at potential zombies. It’s one of my favorite things about you. (um, can you tell I really really need sleep?) huggs :))

  2. lolol @ shuddering at potential zombies.
    Great blog Fuzzy, i live right next to Ireland and I honestly had no clue about it all…St. Patrick’s has always been, in my experience, just a day when many people get drunk 😛
    I finally left a voice post. Bad me!

  3. you’re not the only one, fuzzy.

    and i’d so rather not do anything at potential zombies. i’d rather do things away from them. you know, like run. fast. away.

  4. so he may or may not have even been a christian….did he believe in God do you think or maybe perhaps he only SAID he was a christian to avoid being burnt at the stake as a heretic (hereticus – latin – to choose) for if he WAS a pagan before he converted that would have been his fate….and I never did get why they have to change their names when they Saint them…St Maewyn actually sunds rather cool I think….and being Irish the raising from the dead thing probably came about cos he picked a few drunkards up from the gutter thus saving their lives, taking them home to wives who would have said something like “ye should’ve left him for dead to be sure” and thus the story goes on…and on….about to go out to a party tonight – woohoo – that is if Robert wakes up soon!!!!!!!! Happy Snappy Saturday to ye! And a point of the good stuff to be sure, Mary mudder of God
    *wink wink*

  5. The irish had to have a saint as we aleady had St George, who was definately christian and rid the whole kingdom od dragons and was big and tough,no silly snakes that were actually worms cuz no snakes lived there. Although if its a reason to party why not, did hear he used to share his sweets and thats a great reason to make him top man.

  6. I had previously believed that St Patrick was born in Wales, until a couple of years ago, when I found out he was born in Cumbria in north-east England, but there’s still a link there, as the Anglo-Saxons eventually pushed the Britons out to Wales, Cornwall and Cumbria. In Welsh, the name for Wales is Cymru (pronounced cum-ree), so you can see the similarities in the place-names there.

    And there ends today’s lesson!

  7. This is the second version of how St Patrick’s day came into being. I wonder which one is right or can there be more then one.

  8. Perhaps the Irish simply needed an excuse for drinking green colored beer?
    Perhaps that was something that ol Patt enjoyed on celebration of warmer climates and all others found it to be of good tradition.

  9. I want to drink green beer someday too ^.^
    Vietnamese are open and learn fast, we celebrate all the day as long as it brings us joyness and peace. You’ll see it when you come here

  10. Thanks to Khanh I also had no clear idea about this day, so thanks Fuzzy for the great blog about the origins. But you forgot the most important part, what about the kissing thing, you didn’t explain. I thought I can come here and get kiss or kiss someone for St. Patricks Day 🙂 Hilarious blog. Down South not much Green today, later I am going out hope to see more. Cheers 🙂

  11. Funny post Fuzzy. Being an Irishman myself, I spent many a year getting drunk for days around St. Patrick’s day. I have even been to the largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade, in New York City. I never knew much about the holiday, other than you wore green and got drunk. Well, now I don’t drink, and it cracks me up that so many people spent so much time and effort celebrating something so vague. An Irishman, who was born in Wales. A saint, who was never cannonized. And the guy could drive snakes out of a place where there aren’t any! Kind of reminds me of the joke about the guy who keeps snapping his fingers and his buddy asks him why he does that and he says it keeps lions waway. His friend says there isn’t a lion within a hundred miles of here, and the guy responds that it really works huh! They say that March 17th is the one day that everyone is Irish. The other 364 days they don’t want to be, since they don’t like thier food boiled!

  12. I’ve always wondered about the snake thing. I wonder if it is a matter of symbolism: snakes have been used to represent evil and sin, and thus perhaps his “driving evil” out of Ireland by preaching Christianity “drove the snakes out of Ireland?” Heh, more of my silly musings. :p Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

  13. lol.. funny post. Like Spain’s long time strongman, Generalissmo Francisco Franco in the old Saturday Night Live skits, St. Patrick is STILL dead.. lol..

    I guess history is full of twists and turns. The Roman establishment persecuted Christians with murder, mayhem and martyrdom, but unable to get rid of them, they co-opted the once persecuted faith. The establishment also could not fully get rid of some old Celtic religious elements.

    You would know more on this, but some websites say the leprechaun, a Celtic fairy, has become entrenched as a chief symbol for the St. patrick’s holiday, as has the shamrock, an ancient symbol for the Celtic triple goddess Brigit.

    If this is true, perhaps the Irish have had the last laugh- co-opting both a former Roman offical (St Patrick before he was converted) to become their patron saint, while incorporating the old Celtic symbols on the back end.

  14. lol, yeah, me, too, Tally; I was pretty surprised to learn (or um not) so much (little) while doing this one! Huggs :)) (love my voice o’gram, too, of course!! :D)

    hehe, Kerry, yeah, me, too. And even faster if they’re little Victorian doll zombies. Gaaahhh!!

    omg, Ali, you are toooooo funny! He may very well not have been a Christian; why didn’t I see it? Head thunk. and lmao at the saving the dead drunk from the gutter. :)) Thanks for you FAB comments. Huggs

    Thanks, Rash! You, too. :))

    St. George and the dragons, yes. Quite. lmao @ you (or with you), Pilgrim, fab comments. And frankly, anyone who shares his (or her) sweets is tops in my books. :))

    Love that bit o’ history, Dudge, thanks so much. How do you pronounce Maewyn, though? I was kind of curious about that when I saw it in wikipedia. Thanks for commenting! :))

    lol Amber, this isn’t a version, really, I was planning on just writing it up, straight like, but then wikipedia had an entry on St. Patrick and one on St. Patrick’s Day and they both said totally different things, and one of them, as I said had two different years of death that were like thirty years apart. I didn’t research beyond wikipedia, but figured if they’re confused, everyone else is, too. Bottom line and to answer your question: yes, there can be two, three, four, ten versions, but they’re all speculative, it seems. (again, though, I’d have to care enough to do actual research to answer properly, and nothing against you, I just don’t care enough about St. Patrick or his day to go slogging around the net looking for better answers). Huggs :))

    Hiya, River, grand to see you!! And thanks for the giggle. :))

    I would love to come to Vietnam for a visit, Khanh Linh, but you would have to promise that I would never have to clean a thing. Wink. :)) Actually, you will need to teach me about some of your festivals and celebrations, though I like this philosophy of every day being peaceful and joyful. :)) And when you come here I will make sure you get as much green beer as you like (hardly seems a fair trade, does it? lol). Huggs.

    Thanks, Chris, but honestly, no one seems to know about it all! I didn’t know that. As to the kissing me because I’m Irish; I don’t know where that came from, either, but it’s quite the best part of St. Patrick’s Day if you ask me. :)) Hehe. I do know, too, that if you see someone NOT wearing green on St. Patty’s Day you are allowed, indeed compelled, to pinch them. Not sure why, but that’s one of the things I remember from school. Huggs

    Most marvelous comment evah, Michael, and I’m with you on all of it. And lol @ the boiled food thing. Many huggs :))

    And yes, oh scholarly one, Princess Ceres, there is some speculation about the snakes being symbollic of the devil or of pagan’s disbelief and St. Patrick symbolically driving the nonbelievers away by means of conversion. You’re such a smartie pants, I love it!! Huggs. :))

  15. Hey Sarge, you slipped in there! yay! Well, I guess that’s really nothing new, though, you know? I mean we have all sort of “pagan” symbols and feasts and customs swept up in Christianity, not just in Irish legend. That’s how it goes. And I imagine the same will hold should Islam become the predominant world religions, non Muslims will incorporate their dearest customs into it and voila, a whole new thing. (but that is a whole other topic; perhaps one for you, O Philosopher and Deep Thinker?) Huggs Sarge. xx

  16. Hmm, well I haven’t been pinched yet. lol, But I think you are right that pagan elements can find a source from all over. The incorporation of some pagan elements into Islam has been mentioned by several scholars and writers – referencing the pre-Islamic religion of Arabia before Muhammed (moon deities especially) and the “Satanic Verses” that caused issuance of a fatwa against Salman Rushdie’s life. An intriguing suggestion… *wink*

  17. Thanks so much, Azad, and same to you. :))

    I’ve got a copy of Rushdie’s Satanic Verses sitting on my shelf waiting to be read. I’ll get to it, really I will. I love his work, though, am a huge fan of his use of magic realism; his Shame is my favorite (of the ones I’ve read, he’s pretty prolific). And yes, will be keeping an eye on your page . . .

  18. Oh! I forgot it was that day… Thanks for the reminder. Now the story I heard had something to do with this Patrick guy killing off pagans in the name of Christianity. The ‘snakes’ were pagans, so called because they lived close to the earth, unlike ‘high-minded’ Christians. I’ve never wanted to celebrate this holiday since I heard this tale, and I haven’t even investigated its veracity. (Oh! Shame!) And the thought of green beer? Well, it makes me want to hurl.

    Needless to say, though, I was THOROUGHLY ENTERTAINED (yes, I’m shouting it to the world) with your post. As usual, a fabulous mix of ‘facts’ and ROFLMFAO humor. Plus your brilliantly inquisitive mind did put together that a guy who’d been rumored to raise the dead might just have raised up himself, and might still be running around the planet, sainted or not. *giggles* Green beer or not. Parades or not. Snakes or not. RUN!

  19. Isn’t it funny the more you look into these things, the less sense so many of them make? Trying to find out facts about things that happened 1500 years ago can be pretty tough. You’d think they’d have backed their information up, but I guess they didn’t have zip drives back then. 🙂

    Most of the photos were broken, but it was good to see that there were stormtroopers around back in 5th century AD. I hope they kept a close eye on their lucky charms.

  20. Damn!! Now you’ve got me doubting everything!! Maybe this blog wasn’t written by Fuzzy, maybe it was written by someone who only thought they were Fuzzy……maybe I didn’t read it even if it had been written by someone who may or may not exist…….maybe the snakes in Ireland all got on a plane and were consequently dealt with by an irate Samuel L Jackson……maybe Samuel L Jackson is really St Patrick!!
    I think I need to lie down.

  21. What? Snake is symbol of devil in western? Oh, I was born in the year of fire snake (according to lunar calendar). To asiana, snake is symbol of wisdom and charming ^.^

  22. Well Fuzz…. whether it was or wasn’t doesn’t or does matter to only those that do or maybe they don’t depending on whether or not they were there to begin with, unless of course they weren’t. At any rtae you’ve taken one of those less than terribly important subjects with which we must only occupy ourselves with once a year. Of course if we were being chased by zombied Saints of our dead fathers who may be dead or not and have drunk spoiled alchoholic enlivement and halucinated about snakes and spit up in the gutters to chase the snakes out of town. Of course if one wishes to consider the fact that back then there were no gutters or snakes and if niether existed then there was no difficulty in driving them out but probably put them on a bus to where ever. You may or may not wish to accept this slight derivation to a silly pagan theater scene probably written by Shakespeare’s greatest grandpappy who may or may not have been from southern Russia. I hope that this has cleared up any confussion about such pagan bs which it way or not have been true! Big Irish wet kisses ;))

  23. In defense of snakes, they are not Irish…nor were they driven anywhere. They also do not drink. I think. Snakes are good beings. Maybe. St. Patrick was not a Saint either. Maybe.

    LOL –Llama out.

  24. Thank you so much, Jillene, you always make me feel so good. I really appreciate your positive feedback :)) And omg, I’d not hear the Patrick the mass murdering Christian story, yikes! No wonder you’re not a fan of his or of this day. Now the green beer . . . we’ll work on that one. (or not, actually, haven’t had that myself in a couple decades.) Huggs :))

    lol @ the not zip drive having, Sean. And I’m not sure how to fix the broken pics, can you tell me what’s wrong? (I’m not great at all this stuff, though I do try and will fix it if you tell me how). Thanks for your funniness :))

    rofl, Mitch! Omg, you are toooo hilarious. I love this new girlfriend having happy Mitch: yay!! And I didn’t see that movie, was it good? And yes, now that you mention it Samuel L. Jackson WAS mentioned in the historical record . . . teehee Thanks for the wonderful comments! :))

    Hey Khanh Linh, there are a couple schools of thought on that one that both go back to the Judeo-Christian story of the Fall of mankind: given a beautiful garden and a tree from which they could not eat, the first man and woman were brought down by the Devil in the form of a snake, who tempted Eve to eat from the forbidden tree, thus incurring the wrath of God. Women and snakes didn’t get a good deal out of that one, actually. The interpretation I like best is that of John Milton in Paradise Lost; here, we have a gorgeous, charming, eloquent Satan/Devil who charms Eve and tempts her to take the forbidden fruit. This makes sense to me because the snake would have to be amazing to lure someone to fall so far, to tempt them, no? I mean who wouldn’t run miles from a horrid despicable creature with horns, a tail, and smoke coming out of his ears? So ultimately, I think, snakes have to be as you say! :)) (I’m a fire horse, btw, also got a bad rap, so it seems). Huggs to you 😀

    lol, Heyman, you are toooooo funny!! I love that! 🙂

    Aw, Gaby, no snake bashing here, dear. Besides, as I note in my blog, Patrick never was officially canonized, so . . . . ;D Many huggs for the best llama who sticks up for all the world’s creatures. :))

  25. Ahhh.. damn. I wanted to comment on this a lot earlier then I forgot. I’m getting all senile like Homer Simpsons’ grandpa.. Ouuu.

    But yeah.. my best guess is whenever some saint is ”patron saint”.. he ought to be the one who introduced, spread Christianity in that country or nation. Hence, Sir Patrick Biblified Ireland and gave people all over the world a great excuse to get drunk to this day. I mean that’s all people do.. even here in far Down Under.

    People have always used ”saints” for their own purposes as Khanh so innocently and gleefully pointed out. Take Christmas for example… even in pagan, communist or other non Christian countries now people have rosy cheeked Santa pleasing the crowds. Christmas trees spring up all around and shopping mania takes over. God is always good for business you just have to change His name and nature to suit the public mood e.g. Santa Claus.

    Now I can’t finish this comment without mentioning the St. Valentine’s day! Apparently, as far I can remember with my senile mind, in bad Ol’ Roman Vampire days of military conquests, the authorities barred men from getting married because they were meant to join military and kill people, not marry women and be burdened with babies, other household duties. So, there was this Bishop or priest or whatever.. he married couples in secret ceremonies. He got caught and was executed. So, he became saint of Love. Now, he became saint of teenage love too and of chocolates, greeting cards, gifts… eventually of shopping, of course. *Wink Wink*

  26. Hey, Eskimo, you can’t be late answering a blog; they’re ALL here all the time. Well, I guess you may be “late” in terms of others seeing it, but even then, maybe not. Besides, I was pretty quick to post my snow/quiz blog, so you may not have been expecting that one! As to your comment; wonderful. This is that fine brain I like to see mulling over the good things to think about. Yay you!! Huggs :))

  27. But I’m confused now. I thought this was a great blog, Fuzzy. But I still don’t see where the stormtrooper fits in. Perhaps he’s just something you see after drinking green beer? Thank goodness Irish only get drunk once a year I say.

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