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By Mel White 

Celebratin' o' the green

On the Bright Side

 

It's St. Patrick's Day – the day when everyone is a little Irish. And why not? If this is a holiday that brings us closer to a feeling of togetherness and camaraderie through green colored celebrations and adopted heritage, then I say Faith and Begorrah, let the celebrating begin!

I do have a drop or two of genuine Irish blood in me veins, thanks to me grandmamma, Josephine O'Brien, who was, coincidentally, born on March 17, so we were always celebrating St. Paddy in one way or another as I was growing up. We didn't imbibe green beer (yes, there are Irish people who don't drink), but we had green everything else and lots of shamrocks and stories and sparkling eyes and it was always a very happy celebration.

Periodically I look up the history of the holiday, and it continually appears that everyone who has ever written a history of St. Pat has got different "facts." Okay, St. Patrick lived a long time ago – over 1500 years ago – so maybe it's no wonder that no one really knows all the facts for sure, but different historians even list different dates for his birthday, and sure enough, different dates are also given for the date of his death, which is the date we celebrate. Pretty much everyone agrees it was March 17, but the year of his death has been reported to be in 461 A.D. as well as 493 A.D. Like I said, it was all a long time ago.

Anyway, St. Patrick did, one way or another, become the patron saint of Ireland and one popular legend has it that he drove all the snakes out of the Emerald Isle. Some people will tell you that no snakes were ever native to Ireland – the snakes of the legend may symbolize the pagans St. Pat converted to Christianity – but you can believe what you want.

One thing most historians agree on is that the shamrock was used by St. Patrick to explain the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost). People wore shamrocks on their shirts and in their hair to celebrate his feast day back then, just as we do today.

Another usual point of agreement is that St. Patrick's influence in the fifth century is credited with keeping literacy alive in Ireland during the Dark Ages – it was St. Patrick's monks who first began writing down the oral stories of old for posterity (you'd think somebody could have written some dates down, but oh well).

Thanks to the Irish people's continued and unwavering reverence for words both spoken and written, stories are also a big part of St. Pat's Day. Of course, Irish stories may be padded with a fair amount of blarney, but that's what makes them fun.

And who doesn't enjoy the good wit, wisdom and wordplay found in those clever Irish toasts that make the rounds on St. Patrick's Day? Here are a few of my favorites:

May those who love us, love us. And for those who don't love us, may God turn their hearts. And if He cannot turn their hearts, may he turn their ankles, so we may know them by their limping.

May the roof above us never fall in, and may we friends gathered below never fall out.

As you slide down the banister of life, may the splinters never point the wrong way.

Let's all put on our dancing shoes and wear our shamrocks green; and toast our friends both here and there and everywhere in between.

Here's to the bull that roams through the wood, and does all the heifers so very much good; for if it was nay for him and his rod, there'd be none of us here could eat steak, by God.

May the blessings of each day be the blessings you need most; may the most you wish for be the least you get; and may the Lord keep you in His hand and never close His fist too tight.

May the grass grow long on the road to hell for want of use.

May you always be blessed with walls for the wind, a roof for the rain, a warm cup of tea by the fire, laughter to cheer you, those you love near you, and all that your heart might desire.

May your troubles be as few and far between as my grandmother's teeth.

May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night, and the road downhill all the way to your door.

May the best day of your past be the worst day of your future.

Here's to me and thee; and if we ever disagree, here's to me!

 
 

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