May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
From the History Channel's
The original Irish name for these figures of
folklore is "lobaircin," meaning "small-bodied fellow." Belief in
leprechauns probably stems from Celtic belief in fairies, tiny men and
women who could use their magical powers to serve good or evil. In Celtic
folktales, leprechauns were cranky souls, responsible for mending the
shoes of the other fairies. Though only minor figures in Celtic folklore,
leprechauns were known for their trickery, which they often used to
protect their much-fabled treasure. Leprechauns had nothing to do with St.
Patrick or the celebration of St. Patrick's Day, a Catholic holy day.
Corned Beef & Cabbage
Each year, thousands of Irish Americans gather with
their loved ones on St. Patrick's Day to share a "traditional" meal of
corned beef and cabbage. Though cabbage has long been an Irish food,
corned beef only began to be associated with St. Patrick's Day at the turn
of the century. Irish immigrants living on New York City's Lower East Side
substituted corned beef for their traditional dish of Irish bacon to save
money. They learned about the cheaper alternative from their Jewish
Music is often associated with St. Patrick's
Day—and Irish culture in general. From ancient days of the Celts, music
has always been an important part of Irish life. The Celts had an oral
culture, where religion, legend, and history were passed from one
generation to the next by way of stories and songs.
After being conquered by the English, and
forbidden to speak their own language, the Irish, like other oppressed
peoples, turned to music to help them remember important events and hold
on to their heritage and history. As it often stirred emotion and helped
to galvanize people, music was outlawed by the English. During her
reign,Queen Elizabeth I even decreed that all artists and pipers were to
be arrested and hanged on the spot.
Today, traditional Irish bands like The
Chieftains, the Clancy Brothers, and Tommy Makem are gaining worldwide
popularity. Their music is produced with instruments that have been used
for centuries, including the fiddle, the uilleann pipes (a sort of
elaborate bagpipe), the tin whistle (a sort of flute that is actually made
of nickel-silver, brass, or aluminum), and the bodhran (an ancient type of
framedrum that was traditionally used in warfare rather than music).
A three-leafed clover, the shamrock is the
national emblem of Ireland. Although it is widely believed that St.
Patrick used the shamrock to illustrate the Christian doctrine of the
trinity, this idea cannot be proven. In fact the first written mention of
this story did not appear until nearly a thousand years after Patrick's
The shamrock, which was also called the "seamroy"
by the Celts, was a sacred plant in ancient Ireland because it symbolized
the rebirth of spring. By the seventeenth century, the shamrock had become
a symbol of emerging Irish nationalism. As the English began to seize
Irish land and make laws against the use of the Irish language and the
practice of Catholicism, many Irish began to wear the shamrock as a symbol
of their pride in their heritage and their displeasure with English rule.
It has long been recounted that,
during his mission in Ireland, St. Patrick once stood on a hilltop (which
is now called Croagh Patrick), and with only a wooden staff by his side,
banished all the snakes from Ireland. In fact, the island nation was never
home to any snakes. The "banishing of the snakes" was really a metaphor
for the eradication of pagan ideology from Ireland and the triumph of
Christianity. Within two hundred years of Patrick's arrival, Ireland was
The Celtic Cross
This enduring symbol was created
when St. Patrick superimposed a sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto a
For much more - please
History Channel-St. Patrick's Day