Celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day

The Saint Patrick of Medieval TimesIn Irish Gaelic:
Lá Fhéile Pádraig (LAW AY-luh PAW-rihg) = St. Patrick’s Day
Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh! (BAN-uhkh-tee nuh FAY-luh PAW-rihg O-rihv) = Happy St. Patrick’s Day to You All!

Traditional customs for the proper celebration of the day-and Yes we know that Ireland has tried its best to discard its historic culture in favor of progress,i ndustrialization and American commercialism-but customs are important to give meaning to life and joy to the soul so here they are:

  1. 1.Wear an emblem in honor of the saint-a custom which dates from as early as 1681-and the account of Thomas Dinely. Generally a green ribbon the shamrock or a saint patricks cross(circle or square of paper decorated with green ribbon and bits of priests vestments by girls and small children-for boys a paper cross in the style of the Celtic illuminations carefully decorated)
  2. Go to work and demand the “Patrick’s Groat” take leave of your capitalistic master and go to town and spend it all.(very few of the zealous should be found sober at night account(Dinely 1681!).
  3. Men should make a cross of a twig of wild sallow and pin it to the thatch inside the house or above the door.
  4. You may also wear a harp shaped badge
  5. Wear the “Trifolium repens” -white clover (Identified as such by Caleb Threlkeld in 1727)
  6. After church go to the pub to drink the “pota Pa/draig”-St. Patricks pot. Many acts of devotion should be followed by an equal number of acts of copious libation…
  7. Say this quaint line when doing so:

    Ordain a Statute to be Drunk
    And burn Tobacco free as Spunk
    And (fat shall never be forgot
    In Usquebah,St. Patrick’s Pot
    (Farewell 1689)

  8. Actually it is doubtful if anyone knows what a shamrock is (Early 20th century-Nathaniel Colgan asked around Ireland and found that it could be-Trifolium repens,(white clover), Folium minus-(leser trefoil),Trifolium pratense(purple clover),Medicagio Lupulina (Black Medick) So take your pick!
  9. Give treats and gifts to friends and children.
  10. Put shamrock which has been worn on the day into the last glass of drink-then toast to the health of all and pick the wet drowned shamrock out of the glass and toss it over the left shoulder.
  11. Using a burnt stick make a cross on the sleeve of each member of the household
  12. You have to eat meat and you do not need any special dispensation to do so. Jocelin notes that as early as 1100 AD people ate meat in Lent due to an account of St.Patrick doing so and then being forgiven the meat turning to fish in the boiling water.
  13. You must begin your planting soon after St. Patrick’s day-(peas are best planted on the day. (Source-Kevin Danaher-The Year in Ireland Mercier Press Cork,1972)