Blog by VONNIE DAVIS -- International, Award-Winning Romance Author: Adventurous...Humorous...Amorous.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


St. Patrick's Day is a holiday known for parades, green beer and all things Irish—from shamrocks to music to leprechauns to the corned beef and cabbage.

Take the shamrock, for example. It was also called the “seamroy” by the Celts. This fragile looking plant was sacred in ancient Ireland because it symbolized the rebirth of spring. By the 17th century, the shamrock had become the symbol of emerging Irish nationalism as the English began to seize Irish land. England made laws against use of the Irish language and the practice of Catholicism. In response, many Irish began wearing the shamrock as a symbol of their pride in their heritage.             

Music, too, is a strong segment of Irish culture. 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. Instruments through centuries include the fiddle, the uilleann pipes (a sort of elaborate bagpipe), the tin whistle (a type of flute mad of nickel, brass or allyminum) and the bodhran, an ancient type of frame drum.

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. Irish immigrants living in New York City’s Lower East Side substituted corned beef for the traditional dish in Ireland of bacon to save money, a cheaper alternative learned from their Jewish neighbors. Ale and guinness are also served.

Belief in leprechauns—“lobaircin” meaning “small bodied fellow”—probably stems from Celtic belief in fairies, tiny men and woman who could use their magical powers to serve good or evil. In Celtic folklore, leprechauns were cranky souls, known for their trickery, which they often used to protect their much-fabled treasure.

The cheerful, friendly leprechaun we are so familiar with now is a purely American invention. One that, thanks to a Disney movie called “Darby O’Gill & the Little People,” has quickly evolved into an easily recognizable symbol of both St. Patrick’s Day and Ireland.  

And while there's nary a drop of Irish blood in this old German gal, I still wish you all a....     


1 comment:

Rachel Lyndhurst said...

I'd never heard of the corned beef and cabbage combo, Vonnie. Sound really nice - think I'd better try it. Even if I am a day late!!