Monday, March 16, 2015

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day March 17th

When you think of Ireland on St. Patrick's Day, what's the first thing you think of? Is
It “Green Beer”, Shamrocks, Leprechauns, I'd bet the ranch it's not the harp, Ireland's official national symbol.
The Shamrock
Image result for shamrock

Derived from the Irish word seamróg, meaning 'little clover,' shamrock refers to young sprigs of clover. It was coined by Edmund Campion, an English scholar in 1571, when he wrote of the 'wild Irish' people eating the plant. In fact, the Irish at that time included wood-sorrel as a herb in their diet, which looked quite similar to clover.
It is popularly believed that St. Patrick once used the clover in his preaching to symbolize the Christian Holy Trinity, although the first written account of this does not appear until Caleb Threlkeld wrote of it in 1726.

The clover was a sacred plant of the Irish Druids, due to the cluster of its three heart-shaped leaves. Three was a sacred number in Irish mythology, perhaps inspiring St. Patrick to 'Christianize' it in his teachings.
The Metrical Dindshenchas, a collection of ancient poems dating back to 11th century, known as 'the lore of places', indicates that the shamrock was important long before the arrival of St. Patrick.

Teltown (in Irish Tailten, named for Tailltiu, who was Lugh Lámhfhada’s foster mother) was described as a plane covered in blossoming clover. Brigid founded her religious order in Co. Kildare (in Irish Cill Darra, meaning 'church of the oak') in a blossom-covered clover field. These beautiful meadows were called St. Brigid’s Pastures, ‘in which no plow is ever suffered to turn a furrow.’ It was said that, although cattle were allowed to graze there from morning till night, the next day the clover remained as luxuriant as ever.
During the 18th century, the shamrock became popular as a national emblem worn by members of the Irish Volunteers, local warbands raised to defend Ireland against the threat of Spanish and French invasion.
Now, every year on St. Patrick's Day, the Irish Taoiseach presents a Waterford crystal bowl featuring a shamrock design containing shamrocks to the US President in the White House.
The Leprechaun
Image result for leprechaun
Known in Irish as the leipreachán, this mischievous little fellow is usually depicted as an old man, about 3ft tall, with red hair and beard, dressed in a dapper green or red coat and hat.
He makes shoes and hides his gold coins in a pot at the end of the rainbow. He is said to be intelligent, cunning and devious, a comical figure who loves practical jokes, a creature neither good nor evil.

As a fairy being, he is thought to be associated with the Tuatha de Denann, however, there is no mention of such a character in Sidhe or Denann mythology. It is more likely that he has arisen out of local folklore and superstition. Despite his enormous popularity, there is little known about his origins.