Charlie’s Corner is the domain of Charlie, the furry four-legged lady’s man of Market Common. Each month, he’ll share information to help all new, visiting, and existing doggie community members get the most out of life alongside their human companions. Here, we’ll feature his reflections on what it’s like to be a dashing downtown doggie, as he reminds all of us how to play well together. This month, Charlie honors the Irish with some notes about St. Patrick’s Day.
In case you didn’t already know this about me, I just love holidays. Whoops! I just realized I forgot to add that to my “List of Loves” for Valentine’s Day in last month’s edition. In case you missed all the ways I’m delighted by life, you can read the archives here, then mentally tack on love of holidays for a more complete picture of me.
But getting back to my original thought: I’m so happy that March gives us St. Patrick’s Day because it’s another cause for a celebration. What a great holiday. A bunch of merry people come together and then become more merry. Hmmm. I guess I don’t know that much about St. Patrick’s Day. Let’s learn more. I’ll put my doggie research skills to work.
Apparently, Patrick, for whom the day is named, was a boy living in Britain in the fifth century AD. When Irish marauders invaded his father’s lands and tried to take over the estate, they captured Patrick and brought him to Ireland to work as a slave.
Patrick eventually escaped, and somewhere along the way, became a devout Christian. As an adult, he returned to Ireland as a missionary. But what was unique about Patrick, and made him so beloved to the people of Ireland wasn’t that he cast all the snakes out of the country (this is actually a myth, although an interesting one. Also it’s probably good that it’s a myth because snakes are good for the garden, and in addition to cats, can stop a mouse-in-the-house problem. You have to envy things that can stop a mouse-in-the-house problem because I certainly can’t.)
Anyhow, what made him beloved to the people was that he incorporated aspects of their culture that they were proud of and valued into his teachings of Christianity, so he was able to meet them on their level rather than belittling their traditions and customary ways of thinking.
He used fire for Easter celebrations— an important aspect of Irish ceremonial and ritual practices. He also incorporated the sun, a major symbol, into representations of the crucifix; today we know this as the Celtic cross.
After his death, the Christian church named him a saint, and St. Patrick’s Day became a religious festival day that honored his life on the day of his death. Over time, the day evolved to become a time to remember and celebrate Irish culture.
During the Potato Famine of 1845, scores of Irish immigrated to America seeking a better life, and were met with fierce contempt and prejudice. St. Patrick’s Day became a time for the Irish immigrants to celebrate their roots as well as their strength in numbers, and take pride in their culture.
Over time, as people wisened up, and cultural differences became something to embrace rather than shun, St. Patrick’s Day became a day everyone could enjoy. A time to step into another culture and experience all the beauty they have to share. I say Amen to that. Let’s party!