On This Date in History: I’ve already written my opinion regarding St. Patrick’s Day. Beyond those thoughts of foolishness, I also find it ironic that so many people who are non-Christians celebrate St. Patrick’s Day every year. It’s also interesting that, while we have protests every year concerning Christmas parades due to Christmas’s ties to Christianity, no one seems to mind communities holding St. Patrick’s Day parades. Hmm..seems to me for one to be consistent, that if one stands against public Christmas parades, then one must also stand in opposition to St. Patrick’s Day parades. I suppose that a major difference is that St. Patrick’s Day has such a close association with alcohol consumption, which indirectly, is a slight to the Irish. I’ve noticed that most people who celebrate St. Patty’s Day also have no tie to Ireland at all and certainly very few Americans, even those of Irish heritage, don’t even know anyone who lives in Ireland.
I also find that most people don’t even know that St. Patrick wasn’t even Irish himself. He was born around 390 AD in Britain, most likely in Scotland. His parents were most likely Roman. His father was a magistrate or some form of tax collector as well as a Christian Deacon but some speculate that he only took on that title due to the political and financial benefits. There is some dispute if Patrick’s family was really all that religious at all. When Patrick was about 16, invaders from Ireland crossed to Britain and captured many people with the intent of taking them back to Ireland as slaves. Patrick was one of those unfortunate souls and spent about 6 years tending sheep and pigs on the hillsides controled by an Irish chieftan named Milucc or Milshu. He lived a life of solitude and turned to his religion for comfort. Some suggest that it was during this time of contemplation that Pat conceived of the notion of converting the largely nature based pagan Irish to Christianity.
Pat managed to escape after 6 years and he wrote that he believed that God spoke to him in a dream and told him to return to Britain. Now, that was a tall order considering that it is believed he had been held in Mayo or Antrim county, some 200 miles from the Irish coast opposite Britain. Once he walked all that way, he somehow managed to cross the channel to Britain. One legend suggests that Pat boarded a ship at a Southeastern Irish harbor that was bound for Britain and after 3 days, the ship landed and those on board made their way to shore. But the trip was interrupted by a band of vandals and after 4 weeks, the crew and passengers were starving and the Captain turned to Patrick and said, “What have you to say for yourself, Christian? You boast that your God is all powerful. We’re starving to death and we may not survive to see another soul!” Patrick is said to have responded that nothing was impossible with God and he suggested that the captain, “turn to Him and He will send us food for our journey.”
Well, supposedly, a heard of pigs showed up and their lives were saved. Pat went on to look for his family and eventually was reunited. Then, Pat said that he was visited in a dream again; this time by an angel. He was told to return to Ireland as a missionary. So, he took time to beef up his religious training and he was ordained as a Priest. It was then that he went to Ireland on a mission to minister to Christians and to convert as many pagans as he could find to Christianity. This flies in the face of the assumption that Patrick introduced Christianity to Ireland, Nevertheless, some accounts suggest that he had been made a Bishop so he could ordane Priests, which would make sense.
Now, Pat was pretty smart. Having lived there for so many years, he was quite familiar with the language and the customs of the island. And, while there already were probably a few Irish Christians, the vast majority of people were pagans who had their own traditions. So, instead of trying to turn their whole world upside down, he just incorporated pagan tradition into his Christian teaching. I mean, so what if the Irish Christianity was a little different than that in Rome? For instance, the Irish tradition was to light bonfires to honor their gods. So, he decided to celebrate Easter with a bunch of bonfires. The sun was a powerful symbol in Ireland so, Pat just superimposed the image of the sun onto a cross and…Voila!..there you have the Celtic Cross. Of course, it wasn’t an easy life. Pat and his followers were imprisoned several times after being sold out to local kings. Pat was sentenced to death many times but fought on and survived until his death on this date in or around 460 AD.
Now, the Irish clan tradition was rich in oral story telling. So, there is no mystery as to why there are so many myths about St. Patrick. A Catholic source suggests that Pat never chased the snakes 0ut of Ireland and claims that it is debatable if he ever used the 3 pronged clover leaf to exemplify the notion of the Trinity. This encylopedia account of St. Patrick seems pretty well researched by someone who obviously had a lot of time on his hands because it’s pretty involved. But, if you search, you will find many variations of the story of St. Patrick, including the Confessions of St. Patrick which at least gives some insight into the man since it was self-written. No one seems to be able to settle on his date of birth or death, except that he died on March 17. And, it’s pretty tough to determine when he was made the Patron Saint of Ireland. That’s because the first person canonized by the Pope was a bishop from Germany named Ulrich and that wasn’t until 993 AD. Until that time, canonizations were done on the diocesean level shortly after the supposed holy one’s death. Apparently, Pat was made a Saint by the locals and the Catholic Church never took it off their calendar. So much is unclear about this guy who is so well known, or unknown. One thing that does stand out is that in the dioceces of Ireland, its a Holy Day of Obligation, but nowhere else. In America, those who mark St. Patrick’s Day do so in many ways, but I think it would be a stretch to say it has anything to do with holiness, nor the true origin of the day.
Weather Bottom Line: The forecast remains on track and I’m still on the cloudy limb for Wednesday. While the upper low still comes down from the north well to the West, there remain indications on both the GFS and NAM that we will have a bunch of clouds. Conventional wisdom calls for mostly sunny skies but I’m not so sure of that. At least we will have filtered sun with a high cloud deck. Tell you what…the 12Z GFS even called for some light showers around here for the first part of Wednesday. Now, I’m not so sure about that but I’ll go with more clouds than most others suggest and temperatures similar to what we saw on Tuesday with highs in the upper 50′s. It’s really an academic argument and doesn’t make that much difference except as a point to argue. Then we get to the low to mid 60′s on Thursday and Friday and I betcha its upper 60′s on Saturday before we get a cold front and rain with some t’storms Saturday night. Sunday looks to be a good day to watch basketball with a lot of clouds and cooler conditions…low 50′s at best perhaps… and then a secondary push of colder air keeps us in the 40′s on Monday.