Remember the Real Reason for Saint Patrick’s Day

Go raibh tú daibhir i mí-áidh
Agus saibhir i mbeannachtaí
Go mall ag déanamh namhaid, go luath a déanamh carad,
Ach saibhir nó daibhir, go mall nó go luath,
Nach raibh ach áthas agat
Ón lá seo amach.
(Translation at the end of this entry)

This very well may be taken as sanctimonious and holier-than-thou but it worth the risk. I have lost my desire for green beer, goofy green hats and people using Saint Patrick’s Day as an excuse to get sloppy. There is a real reason for the day, one I like to focus on.

Crowds, parades, packed bars and pubs don’t bother me, everybody has to have their fun. But being a “Patrick” on Saint Patrick’s Day, I like to think about my heritage and the story of Saint Patrick as embodied in my parents who are the son and daughter of Irish immigrants, my grandparents, my Auntie Eileen, Uncle Bill and Uncle Billy who are no doubt gathered in heaven singing traditional Irish songs as my Uncle Bill did in his living room when I would visit as a boy. I am reminded also of my Aunt Mary, Uncle Jack, Aunt Fran, Aunt Barbara and my cousin Jack. Those memories will live in me forever and serve as a source of strength when I have none.

A good place to learn the true meaning of Saint Patrick’s Day is from : “Patrick’s Day has come to be associated with everything Irish: anything green, shamrocks and luck.

“To those who celebrate its intended meaning, St. Patrick’s Day is a traditional day for spiritual renewal and offering prayers for missionaries.

“Saint Patrick is the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland. St Patrick is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. Most of what is known about him comes from his two works; the Confessio, a spiritual autobiography, and his Epistola, a denunciation of British mistreatment of Irish Christians. Saint Patrick described himself as a ‘most humble-minded man, pouring forth a continuous paean of thanks to his Maker for having chosen him as the instrument whereby multitudes who had worshipped idols and unclean things had become the people of God.’

“Many folk ask the question ‘Why is the Shamrock the National Flower of Ireland?’ The reason is that St. Patrick used it to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagans. Saint Patrick is most known for driving the snakes from Ireland. It is true there are no snakes in Ireland, but there probably never have been – the island was separated from the rest of the continent at the end of the Ice Age. As in many old pagan religions, serpent symbols were common and often worshipped. Driving the snakes from Ireland was probably symbolic of putting an end to that pagan practice.

“While not the first to bring Christianity to Ireland, it is Patrick who is said to have encountered the Druids at Tara and abolished their pagan rites. The story holds that he converted the warrior chiefs and princes, baptizing them and thousands of their subjects in the ‘Holy Wells’ that still bear this name. The Chapel of St. Patrick still exists as part of Glastonbury Abbey.”

May you be poor in misfortune,
Rich in blessings,
Slow to make enemies,
Quick to make friends,
But rich or poor, quick or slow,
May you know nothing but happiness
From this day forward.