I love learning more about the meaning of our holidays and traditions--I've done posts on Celebrating New Year's Day, St. Nick and Santa Claus, the Origin of Halloween, and Finding Easter's Date. While I'm not exactly Irish (although one of my great-grandfathers was a Sullivan), I do enjoy taking part in the fun--wearing green, drinking beer, and serving a traditional Irish meal. You'll notice I said "serving", not "cooking"...cooking is not one of my strengths; however, writing is. So I'm dedicating this blog post to some facts about St. Patrick and his holiday.
The day not only commemorates St. Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, it also celebrates Irish culture and heritage. There are parades and festivals to mark the occasion, as well as religious services. Because the church lifts Lenten restrictions for the day, drinking alcohol has become a custom associated with St. Patrick's Day.
Some stories credit St. Patrick with driving all the snakes from Ireland; however, all scientific evidence suggests no snakes ever existed on the Emerald Isle to begin with. Another legend related to a serpent involves St. Patrick killing a large serpent in a lake, thus turning the water red with blood and creating the name "Red Lake" or Lough Derg. It is said that God showed St. Patrick a cave or pit on an island in the lake, revealing the spot as an entrance to Purgatory. St. Patrick's Purgatory is now an ancient pilgrimage site which still draws pilgrims annually.
Upon his death, the struggle over possession of the saintly corpse gave rise to the Battle for the Body of St. Patrick (according to the Annals of the Four Masters - chronicles of medieval Irish history). He is said to be buried along with St. Brigid and St. Columbia at Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, County Down, but this has never been proven.
I've never been lucky enough to visit Ireland, but it's on my list of places I desperately want to see--a trip there conjures up images of ancient castles, mystical stone circles, and lush, rolling countrysides. In fact, it sounds like the perfect setting for a novel! One of my favorite Nora Roberts' trilogies (Irish Jewels) is set in Ireland: Jewels of the Sun, Tears of the Moon, and Heart of the Sea. The romance is flavored with Irish folklore and intriguing myths. While my novels are all set in the States, they also contain haunting elements...so if you like a little spooky suspense with steamy romance, give one of them a try...a good book goes well with a slice of soda bread and an Irish coffee :) Happy St. Patrick's Day!