St Patrick's Day - A Bit of Whimsy
I grew up celebrating St. Patrick's Day as a bit of cultural whimsy. If you didn't wear green on the 17th of March, you would get pinched. I didn't want to get pinched, so I made sure I had something green on, no matter how obscure. (I didn't usually wear much green!) It didn't matter anyway, because I wasn't Irish... but Scottish.
More recently (like about two-three years ago), I discovered that the "Scottish" that I thought I had was, indeed, Irish! (I do have some Scottish, but further back on a different branch of my family tree.) Furthermore, I have spent a considerable time with the Druids in England (the possible "snakes" that St. Patrick had driven out of Ireland.)
See, Ireland has never had snakes, so there wasn't anything to drive out... but the Druids had long used the symbol of the snake as a symbol of wisdom (If you believe in the legend of The Garden of Eden, then maybe it's true - as the snake was the one who gave them the knowledge needed to "sin" in the first place.)
At the time of St. Patrick, Trinity College in Dublin (or whatever it was called before Patrick) was known as an institute of higher learning of much respect to all. They taught in Latin and Gaelic, and the highest Druids were probably learned men. (This part may or may not be perfectly true as I'm working from memory of things I've read in the past as this kind of history isn't always easy to find.)
Patrick was actually English, but was taken to Ireland by slavers (I think it was...) Eventually, he escaped, returned to England, but after he became a Christian, he decided to become a missionary to the people who had enslaved him - the Irish. And so the legend continues. (I also heard in Iceland, that there was a healthy exchange of hermits - probably more Druids - between Iceland and Ireland for some time around year 1000.)
Anyway... back to today.
Although the Irish have, indeed, honored St. Patrick for over 1000 years, it was never quite what the celebration is today. In fact, most of the current customs came about in the USA from Irish immigrants.
BTW, if you want to know about slavery that's often hushed up, learn about the indentured servants - usually Irish - that helped settle the USA. Slavery isn't always about race, but it is about suppressing a people that the oppressors don't like for one reason or another - and free labor. Of course, in the 1800s, it wasn't indentured servants who made their way from Ireland to the USA, but refugees trying to survive the 1845 potato famine. We'll get to those poor folks in a minute.
St. Patrick's color was blue, not green, but the Irish would remember the lush green of the Emerald Isle. They would remember rainbows as something that would emerge when their abundant rains would let up long enough for the sun to get through. And leprechauns... many cultures have legends of "little people" and these were just the Irish version. (Are they real? or not? Will we ever know?)
Even corned beef turns out to be an American thing - from when Irish immigrants (who lived in a state of severe poverty) could only afford to buy the leftover salt beef from the sailing ships in the cities (largely New York and Boston) and would boil it three times, the final time with cabbage (again, very cheap.)
Nowadays, St. Patrick's Day is as religious as it is secular. It's a day to celebrate Irish heritage whether you are lucky to have it or not. (Similar to how Cinco de Mayo is used to celebrate Mexican heritage even if you aren't...)
I wanted to find some lamb, but that is so expensive in the USA. I miss it being cheaper, like it is in the UK, as it really is my favorite meat. It's not as scary to cook as you might have been taught to believe. (Once, when I needed to use food banks to supplement my food, I was given extra lamb because no one knew how to cook it!)
Today, I'm cooking Creamy Reuben Soup using some corned beef that I bought and some sauerkraut that I made the other day - specifically for this purpose. I'll also make some grain-free Irish Soda Bread. I will share these with you at a later date.
Today's post is crossposted on Hive.
Origin of series:
Someone asked me on Discord to share some cultural bits from the countries I'm most familiar with (USA and UK)...
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