Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The real deal on St. Patrick's Day

Anyone that knows me knows that I like to do things different from everyone else...sometimes to a fault. I have never been one to jump on a band wagon just because everyone else jumped on. In fact, there have been a few wagons that I jumped off of because they go too crowded. I tend to stay away from common practices that the majority follows out of habit or reflex. That is, until I find purpose and intentionality behind something. Then I follow something for a better reason then, "just because".

St. Patrick's Day has kind of been one of those things. I would occasionally wear a little green if I was in the right mood, but most of the time I treated it like any other day. Maybe it was just my way of refusing to conform, I don't know. This year I decided to try to find out why the day is celebrated and what all is behind it. So here's the brief summary.

St. Patrick wasn't actually Irish, but traveled to Ireland with a mission to spread Christianity. During the more than 20 years that he lived there, he gained tremendous favor with the people and won many converts. After his death on March 17, AD 461, the day was used to commemorate his life and work to the Irish people. It was traditionally a Catholic holy day where families would have the day off of work, go to Mass, and have a meal together. Believe it or not, pubs were even closed on this day (until the 1970's). There was a sanctity and holiness to this very sacred holiday - much different then it is today.

Although green is the color that is most attributed to this holiday, it was not the color that was associated with St. Patrick. Blue was his "officially assigned" color, and is still seen on ancient Irish flags and even on the uniforms that the Irish special forces wear today. The "wearing of the green" actually referred to wearing a shamrock: a symbol that St. Patrick used to explain the concept of the Trinity. It represented how the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit could all exist as separate elements of the same entity. St. Patrick's followers began the tradition of wearing a shamrock on his feast day.

In fact, green was a sign of superstitious "bad luck" that had something to do with a folklore legend about fairies kidnapping children who wore too much of their (the fairies) favorite color.

So in my own "I have to be different" sort of way, I'm proudly wearing blue today (with a little bit of green). I couldn't find a shamrock to wear, but that's probably because I didn't really find all of this out until yesterday, and waited until the last minute to look for one. Sometimes I'm different just for the sake of being different; other times I'm different because there's a purpose behind it. As I have discovered a while ago, things tend to last longer when there's intentionality to support it.


Joshua said...

hahaha dude that's awesome.

Regina said...

I feel secretly awesome -- I was wearing both blue and green yesterday. Thanks for sharing this bit o' history *grin*