Sunday, 17 March 2013

The Wearing of the Green

It occurs to me that a brilliant word of the day today would be 'green'. After all, there's so much green to be had. St Patrick's Day is today, and that's pretty green. Then there's Earth Hour later this week, which is all about the environment and 'being green', so at first, I was a little bummed that I'd already used the word for my goddamned 'Stephenie Meyer' post, 50 Shades of Twilight.
But then I realized two things. First of all, St. Patrick was originally associated with the colour 'blue', but it changed to green because of the colour's association with shamrocks and Catholics. Secondly, I realized that I don't really want to talk about Earth Hour much at all, since it's pretty stupid. After some thought about it, all I want to say is this:
  "Earth Hour is a waste of time, since spending 0.02% of your year with the lights off will do absolutely nothing to the environment."
So let's just talk about St Patrick's Day, and see what we can learn.
The Word of the Day is: 'SHAMROCK'.

Shamrock /'shamrok/ n. A plant with three leaflets believed to have been used by St. Patrick to symbolize the Trinity.

I'm not going to lie, my Dictionary is a little old-fashioned. It comes with being an ancient tome, but yes, that's how it defines a shamrock. Some of you already know what that means, but you're ahead of the rest of the class, so let me explain. The 'Trinity' here is speaking of the 'Holy Trinity' of the Christian religion. Christianity is a monotheistic religion, but it also has an odd claim that God is actually three people, known as:
"The Father; The Son & The Holy Ghost" or to put it in simple terms:
'God the Almighty', 'Jesus the Nazarine' & 'The Spirit that Fucks Mary'.
Even Christians can have trouble understanding this, however, as these are all claimed to be one and the same entity, despite having different duties and being represented in different ways. So when Christianity came to Ireland (in the form of St Patrick) and he wanted to convert them from Paganism to Christianity, it seems this 'Trinity t'ing' was a point contention amongst them, as with most Christian converts. So to explain it best, St. Patrick used the shamrock. A little plant with three leaf segments that are separate, but connected to a single stem. Just like the leaflets were three protrusions of the one stem which grew them, Patrick explained that God was the Father, the Son & the Holy Ghost; and all of them at the same time were one connected God.

A lot of this surprised me, because when you're wearing a green shirt and drinking Guinness  you don't seem to realize the fact that you are celebrating the ideological takeover of a culture. St Patrick's Day celebrates a (potentially allegorical) individual, and a bishop, who is most famous for getting rid of Paganism. Some people say that he was famous for Banishing the Snakes from Ireland. But history tells us there never were any snakes in Ireland, and so some historians believe this story is symbolic. As not only is the snake, (serpent or dragon) associated with the Devil, but was also a symbol of the Druids, and of Paganism, which St Patrick did 'banish' or at least displace.

Though I did learn something interesting that doesn't have to do with Christianity. It turns out that the drinking done on St Patrick's day is, in part, a rebellious celebration. The Irish are known to drink, and in the early 1900s there was a law passed that said pubs had to be closed on the 17th of March, because drinking was getting out of hand on St. Patrick's day. The law was repealed in the 1970s however, and drinking on St. Patrick's day seems to have become a tradition ever since.

There's a lot more history involved with St. Patrick's day and it's celebration, and I suggest you check it out. It's fascinating stuff; but as I alluded to in The Mayans Save Christmas post, holidays don't have to be all about traditions and history. Religion is bollocks, so I have no need to celebrate St Patrick. I'll probably have a drink this St. Patrick's day, not to celebrate the indoctrination of a kind and imaginative people, but to celebrate overthrowing a patronizing safety law that denigrates free will. I'll also celebrate Ireland, and it's rich culture. No, I'm not an Irishman, but I've a fair sliver of the Eire in my blood as I have Irish ancestors on both my mother's and my father's side of the family. Although I'll never learn Celtic, I can celebrate my long-lost family, and the beauty of Ireland from whence they came, wearing the orange or green of their flag and drinking until I can feel the Luck of the Irish.

But there's one thing that I want to do most of all, and that is to promote Irish folklore. And I mean proper Irish folklore. Because when St. Patrick cast out paganism, he also cast out the colourful array and pantheon of paranormal, Pagan Celtic critters. He didn't destroy all knowledge, and most people know of Leprechauns, and their Irish origin. But they were one small part of a larger pagan culture, celebrating nature, folk magic & stories.
It's a curious habit of people to celebrate a day, for the sake of a holiday, meanwhile forgetting what it means or why they are celebrating. Well I know, and I refuse to celebrate that way. Rather than celebrate a 'saint', I will celebrate what he tried to disband. The creatures, the cultures & the colourful characters of Irish Pagan belief. I want to learn more about The Banshee; Cú Chulainn; the Leprechaun; the Clurichaun; Changelings, Selkies, MerrowThe Salmon of Knowledge.
Because I don't like it when people ignore stories.
I'm going to start looking into these gods & goblins, with a stout beer in hand and I suggest you do as well. There's some fascinating stories to be had, and I think it's a nice way of celebrating a culture's resilience, against those that take away their freedoms and culture.

But if that's a little too idealistic, or just too much effort, I'll just leave you with another aspect of Irish culture, that I take to heart. The "Irish Philosophy" is a simple one, that claims you need never worry (something most Australians agree with). I admit, I am not sure if the philosophy is actually from Ireland, so to make sure it's Irish I have styled it in the form of a limerick, for you lovely people and I thought it was a perfect way to end this post:

Either your sick or you're well,
If you're not sick, then everything's swell.
If you're sick you'll get better,
If not, it's no matter.
For you'll drink with your buddies in Hell!

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