Nathan (vovat) wrote,

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Glory Be and the Saints Be Praised!

Top o' the day to ye, and happy St. Patrick's Day. This has never been a holiday I've done much to acknowledge, but I probably will wear green when I change out of my pajamas (which, in case anyone is interested, are blue). I'll admit that I really didn't know much about old St. Paddy himself, aside from the tale that he drove the snakes out of Ireland. Of course, there probably never were any snakes there, but you can't keep a good myth down. It's difficult separating fact from fiction in the accounts of these early Christian saints, but it seems pretty much agreed upon that Patrick was born in Britain, and captured and sold as a slave in Ireland when he was about sixteen. Later, he made it his mission to convert the Irish to Christianity, and this Catholic Encyclopedia article provides a lot of the stories told about him. One is that, on Easter Sunday, he was involved in a magical duel with the Druids, who used their power to call down darkness, but Patrick used the power of God to vanquish it. Sort of like the story about Moses and the rod-snakes, this tale shows pagan deities having authentic powers, just not quite as powerful as those of the Judeo-Christian God. So was the idea that God wasn't actually the only deity, but merely the one who successfully fought His way to the top of the divine rabble? Another story about Patrick says that he converted two princesses to Christianity, and that they died upon taking the eucharist. The religious faithful credit this to the power of God, but I'm inclined to think those wafers weren't exactly fresh. According to some other websites, St. Patrick is also credited with using the shamrock as a symbol of the Holy Trinity, and with incorporating the Sun into the Celtic Cross (because, hey, if you can't beat the solar worshippers, just incorporate their beliefs into your own). I don't think any legends associate St. Pat with green beer, but maybe that's in the same source as the stories about the resurrected Jesus bringing a basket full of colored eggs and chocolate bunnies to the disciples, and the Druids bobbing for apples during Samhain.
Tags: history, holidays, religion
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