10 March 2010

St. Patricks Day Funnies and History - Cheeky Quote Day 10 Mar 2010

From Denny: Did you know the first Saint Patrick's Day parade celebration parade was held in the United States in New York City in 1762? Yes, that early. Irish soldiers serving in the English military wanted to celebrate their roots with their music and reconnect with other Irish soldiers among them. (Ireland celebrated Saint Patrick's Day centuries before this but not with parades.)

Over the next 35 years Irish patriotism flourished among our immigrant ancestors. I guess all those centuries of condescension from the British took its toll and they decided to do something about it: rekindle their cultural pride. For a number of years each neighborhood held a small parade until someone got the brilliant idea of combining the parades into one gigantic celebration to impress the world.

Looks like their marketing scheme paid off over time. Today Saint Patrick's Day parades are celebrated throughout America: Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Savannah, involving between 10,000 and 20,000 participants each. The largest is New York City with over three million people lining the 1.5 mile parade route. Saint Patrick is also celebrated around the globe: Japan, Singapore and Russia. Everyone wants to get in on the fun.

The Irish encountered centuries of prejudice and injustice. Surprisingly, they were shunned when first arrived in America. That strong negative British attitude still prevailed, even here in the rebellious former colony.

The Irish may have been kicked down. But never count out an Irishman. The Irish have a way of rising to the top - against all odds - just like President John F. Kennedy, a Catholic and of Irish descent.

The Irish experience hardship and sorrow and just keep on moving through life. You have to admire that insurmountable spirit. Sometimes, I think the real reason for celebrating Saint Patrick's Day is to celebrate his strong spirit that could not be broken. It was his legacy to his adopted people: Ireland.

Take a look at the fun collection I found today to help us celebrate and share this special day: poems, funny quotes, Irish Blessings, parade video in Dublin, stand-up comedy video, funny Guinness ad video and a John Mayer music video.

Saint Paddy's Day 2009 celebration in Dublin, Ireland:

Quotes - and who is more cheeky than the spirited Irish? :)

In order to find his equal, an Irishman is forced to talk to God. - Stephen Braveheart

An Irishman is never drunk as long as he can hold onto one blade of grass to keep from falling off the earth. - Irish Saying

Never iron a four-leaf clover, because you don't want to press your luck. - Anonymous

St. Patrick's Day is an enchanted time - a day to begin
transforming winter's dreams into summer's magic. - Adrienne Cook

If a man who cannot count finds a four-leaf clover, is he lucky? - Stanislaw J. Lec

If you're enough lucky to be Irish, you're lucky enough! - Irish Saying

A best friend is like a four leaf clover: hard to find and lucky to have. - Anonymous

Anyone acquainted with Ireland knows that the morning of St. Patrick's Day consists of the night of the seventeenth of March flavored strongly with the morning of the eighteenth. - Anonymous

When anyone asks me about the Irish character, I say look at the trees. Maimed, stark and misshapen, but ferociously tenacious. - Edna O'Brien

May you live all the days of your life. - Jonathan Swift

He was a terror to any snake that came in his path, whether it was the cold, slimy reptile sliding along the ground or the more dangerous snake that oppresses men through false teachings. And he drove the snakes out of the minds of men, snakes of superstition and brutality and cruelty. - Arthur Brisbane

If you hold a four-leaf shamrock in your left hand at dawn on St. Patrick's Day you get what you want very much - but haven't wished for. - Patricia Lynch

The list of Irish saints is past counting; but in it all no other figure is so human, friendly, and lovable as St. Patrick - who was an Irishman only by adoption. - Stephen Gwynn

Many an opportunity is lost because a man is out looking for four-leaf clovers. - Anonymous

History of the true Saint Patrick the man, some myth and legend

The now famous Saint Patrick's Day has some humble beginnings of a young man of sixteen called Maewyn Succat who was born of wealthy parents in Britain in 387 A.D. He was captured by Irish raiders on his father's estate and sold as a slave to to a chieftain named Meliuc in Antrim, Ireland almost 1500 years ago. He spent about six years in captivity until one day he had a dream vision and was shown how to escape back to Britain.

Patrick spent his time as a slave shepherd, alone and away from people. Because he was lonely and afraid he returned to his religion for solace in his isolation. It was then he became a devout Christian and began thinking about converting the Irish.

Patrick tells his story of escape from slavery

In his book "Confession," Patrick recounts his escape from slavery: "Many times a day I prayed. The love of God and His fear came to me more and more, and my faith was strengthened. In a single day I would say as many as a hundred prayers, and almost as many in the night. I used to get up for prayer before daylight whatever the weather - snow, frost, rain - without suffering any ill effects. The spirit within me was fervent."

The rain-swept mountain hardened and forged a boy into God's man. One night he heard a voice: "Soon you will go to your own country." God was speaking. The voice came again. "See, your ship is ready."

Assured God was leading him, Patrick fled that night, traipsing through the bogs, scaling the mountains to get to the sea. He wisely avoided well traveled roads in case someone recognized him as a runaway.

After a 200-mile trek he saw the ship, making ready to sail. Finding the captain, he requested passage. His family would repay the fare, Patrick promised. The captain refused.

Patrick left, dejected and prayed as he walked along the beach. "You led me to this ship, O Lord. I know you won't fail me now." Suddenly he heard the whoosh of feet sprinting in the sand behind him. "Young man," a sailor called. "The captain says we'll take you after all. But hurry! The tide is in." God had heard.

The voyage took three days. When they landed, most likely the coast of France, they only found desolate wilderness. They foraged for food for a good month and were getting desperate. The pagan captain, who had mocked Pat's faith, finally sought him out. "You say your God is great and all-powerful? Then pray for us."

Patrick boldly answered: "Be truly converted with all your heart to the Lord my God." He was an all or nothing kind of guy. When your back is up against the wall there is nothing better than sheer courage to impress. "Nothing is impossible for Him."

Suddenly a herd of pigs scrambled across the road right in front of them and the hungry seamen were successful in their first meal in a long time. Within a few days the crew came upon civilization. All that just to get out of town and back home. No wonder he remained in Britain as long as he did before returning to Ireland.

Upon Patrick's return to his native Britain he had another dream vision. His new assignment was to convert the Irish to Christianity. Though 18 years had passed can you imagine his trepidation of returning to the land of his oppressors?

Saint Patrick as effective compassionate teacher

Patrick was known for being a creative and resourceful pragmatic teacher. Rather than waste time and energy to eradicate the familiar symbols and traditions of the nature-based pagan Irish, he chose to transform them. Because the Irish were accustomed to honoring their gods with fire, Patrick used fire to celebrate Easter.

Ever wondered where that beautiful unusual symbol of the Irish Celtic Cross originated? Patrick took the powerful image of the sun in the Irish mind and superimposed it upon the cross. This made it less foreign to the Irish and easier for them to accept culturally about Jesus as the son of God.

A few Saint Patrick Life Facts

Patrick was not his real name but his chosen Christian name as a newly installed priest and given to him by Pope Celestine.

His father had been a Christian deacon, probably for the tax incentives, because his family was not widely known as religious. His parents were of a high ranking Roman family and were called Calphurnius and Conchessa.

Saint Patrick is also known for the book he wrote of his life and spiritual teachings called "Confessio" (Confession). He wrote many letters to a British chieftain by the name of Coroticus. It turns out that Coroticus led a raid on Ireland that also happened to kill many of Patrick's converts.

Though Patrick was born in Britain it was Ireland he called his home. Why? Because it was in Ireland that he had discovered God and had his first dream visions. So, it is understandable that he also railed against the prevailing British culture from the nobility and the clergy in their scornful attitude toward the Irish. Looks like not much has changed on that front in 1500 years.

Saint Patrick's mentor from France

Patrick's mentor was a man by the name of Bishop St. Germain (Germanus) of Auxerre, France, to whom he would often retell his Ireland experiences. The Bishop recommended Patrick to the Pope for the mission to convert the Irish but rejected him in favor of a man called Palladius. When Palladius died, Patrick was finally chosen to complete the mission. Pope Celestine called Patrick to Rome, installed him as a Bishop in 432 before sending him to Ireland.

The original beginnings of the name Patrick was "Patercius" or "Patritius" which came from two Latin words of "pater civium" which translates as meaning "the father of his people."

Most people know Saint Patrick as the guy who drove the snakes out of Ireland. Well, that isn't exactly how things transpired. When cultures first meet, there are going to be serious clashes, especially when one religion is trying to subvert another. You just can't expect the old guard to take this new upstart sitting down. As it was by many accounts, Patrick had many a run-in with the local Druids. He was imprisoned by them but managed to escape.

Saint Patrick and the Dreaded Druids

There are many legends of the magical fights between Patrick and the Druids. One story recounts where Patrick was cornered by a chieftain named Dichu. As he tried to draw his sword against Patrick, Dichu found he could not as his arm went rigid. Once Dichu declared his obedience to Patrick, his arm was fine. Dichu was so overwhelmed by this miracle that he gifted Patrick with a large sabhall (barn). This became known as the first sanctuary dedicated by Saint Patrick.

Snakes Legend

OK, moving right along to the snakes legend of driving them all out of Ireland for which he is so famous. The word is on that story that he stood on a hill and with his wooden staff like some Irish Moses he commanded the snakes to leave town and drown in the sea, banishing them forever from Ireland. It is true that Ireland has no snakes.

Another version of the legend is a bit cheeky as those storytellers like more conflict and spice to their stories. They tell it that the snakes resisted Patrick. So, Patrick tricked the snakes into entering a small box that he then threw into the garbage dump of the sea.

OK, but the snake symbolism still bothers you? Yeah, me too, so I looked into it further. Turns out in Celtic thought that snakes represent esoteric knowledge much like in the Egyptian culture. Because of this snakes were sacred to the Druids.

Snakes are also associated with the Celtic father god called The Dagda, "the good god" who is the god of good and plenty. It's what we now today call the spiritual energy of abundance. OK, that was the family friendly version. For more on this particular peculiar god, go here.

In this culture, snakes were symbols of the male life force and the earth. So, for snakes to show up in the Saint Patrick legend is no surprise. Basically, Saint Patrick drove out the old ways of some dark stuff like human sacrifice and with them, the cruel enablers, the Druids. While the Druids may have been known for being the learned among the Celts they certainly had their cruel streak and notion of absolute power. It does make a person wonder how ripe was this culture for the arrival of something new to replace the Druids.

At some point, Patrick must have displayed enough bravery, cleverness and miracles to win the favor of the local kings. He spent the next 28 years of his missionary days traveling the countryside and teaching the Christian message. His years as a slave had made him fluent in the local language, making it easy for him to convert almost the entire island.

Shamrock as Patrick's symbol and Celtic Goddess Brigit

So, you say, what about the Shamrock as a symbol? What did Patrick have to do with that symbol? He used the simple shamrock as a visual aid to explain the Christian concept of God for the Holy Trinity. Did you also know that the humble Shamrock was a holy symbol and sacred plant among the local Druids and in Iran too? The Shamrock was originally the pagan symbol of the triple goddess Brigit. She was known for healing, farming (dairy), crafts (smithing and poetry: the craft of words). A sacred fire was kept burning in her honor in pre-Christian times by female devotees. She was considered as the Queen of Heaven by the ancient Celts on equal footing with the Christian Mary, Mother of Jesus Christ.

The Shamrock is where "the wearing of the green" culture arises for Saint Patrick's Day.

Saint Patrick established monasteries, schools and churches across Ireland. He was also successful in creating an Irish clergy, dioceses and held church councils.

How did the date of March 17th come to be chosen as the official date to celebrate him? Saint Patrick died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland, on 17 March 461 A.D. He was 76 years old. He is believed to be buried in Downpatrick, County Down, Ireland.

Of course, Guinness Beer has to get into the act with some cheeky ads:


Oh! St. Patrick was a gentleman
Who came of decent people;
He built a church in Dublin town,
And on it put a steeple.
- Henry Bennett

There's a dear little plant that grows in our isle,
'Twas St Patrick himself, sure, that set it;
And the sun on his labor with pleasure did smile,
And with dew from his eye often wet it.
It thrives through the bog, through the brake, and the mireland;
And he called it the dear little shamrock of Ireland...
- Andrew Cherry

And about her courts were seen
Liveried angels robed in green,
Wearing, by St Patrick’s bounty,
Emeralds big as half the county.
- Walter Savage Landor

The shamrock on an older shore
Sprang from a rich and sacred soil
Where saint and hero lived of yore,
And where their sons in sorrow toil.
- Maurice Francis Egen

Oh, Paddy, dear, an' did ye hear the news that's goin' round?
The shamrock is forbid by law to grow on Irish ground!
No more St. Patrick's Day we'll keep, his colour can't be seen,
For there's a cruel law agin' the Wearin' o' the green.
- Anonymous

With the frost he kindled fire;
Drove the snakes from brake and brier,
Hurling out the writhing brood
With the lightning of his rood.
- Edwin Markham

Oh, while a man may dream awake,
On gentle Irish ground,
'Tis Paradise without the snake -
That's easy to be found.
- Frederick Langbridge

For 'tis green, green, green, where the ruined towers are gray,
And it's green, green, green, all the happy night and day;
Green of leaf and green of sod, green of ivy on the wall,
And the blessed Irish shamrock with the fairest green of all.
- Mary Elizabeth Blake

You've heard I suppose, long ago,
How the snakes, in a manner most antic,
He marched to the county Mayo,
And trundled them into th' Atlantic
- William Maginn

There's ne'er a mile in Ireland's Isle where the dirty vermin musters;
Where'er he put his dear forefoot he murdered them in clusters.
The toads went hop, the frogs went flop, slapdash into the water,
And the beasts committed suicide to save themselves from slaughter.
- Old Irish Song

O, the red rose may be fair,
And the lily statelier;
But my shamrock, one in three
Takes the very heart of me!
- Katherine Tynan

Oh, the music in the air!
An' the joy that's ivrywhere -
Shure, the whole blue vault of heaven is wan grand triumphal arch,
An' the earth below is gay
Wid its tender green th'-day,
Fur the whole world is Irish on the Seventeenth o' March!
- Thomas Augustin Daly

Saint Patrick was a gentleman, who through strategy and stealth
Drove all the snakes from Ireland, here's a drink to his health!
But not too many drinks, lest we lose ourselves and then
Forget the good Saint Patrick, and see them snakes again!
- Anonymous

So, success attend St. Patrick's fist,
For he's a saint so clever;
Oh! he gave the snakes and toads a twist,
And bothered them forever!
- Henry Bennett

When Irish eyes are smiling,
'Tis like a morn in spring.
With a lilt of Irish laughter
You can hear the angels sing.
- Anonymous

When after the Winter alarmin',
The Spring steps in so charmin',
So fresh and arch
In the middle of March,
Wid her hand St. Patrick's arm on...
- Alfred Percival Graves

Wandered from the Antrim hills,
Wandered from the Killalas rills,
Patrick heard upon the breeze
Voices from the Irish seas.
- Anonymous

Leprechauns, castles, good luck and laughter
Lullabies, dreams, and love ever after.
Poems and songs with pipes and drums
A thousand welcomes when anyone comes.
- Anonymous

When law can stop the blades of grass from growin' as they grow,
An' when the leaves in summer time their color dare not show,
Then I will change the color, too, I wear in my caubeen;
But till that day, plaise God, I'll stick to the Wearin' o' the Green.
- Anonymous

What color should be seen
Where our fathers' homes have been
But their own immortal Green?
- Anonymous

A funny succession of comics and their jokes for the famous holiday:

Irish Blessings:

May luck be our companion
May friends stand by our side
May history remind us all
Of Ireland's faith and pride.
May God bless us with happiness
May love and faith abide.
- Irish Blessing

For each petal on the shamrock
This brings a wish your way -
Good health, good luck, and happiness
For today and every day.
- Anonymous

May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.
- Irish Blessing

May the Irish hills caress you.
May her lakes and rivers bless you.
May the luck of the Irish enfold you.
May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.
- Irish Blessing

May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light,
May good luck pursue you each morning and night.
- Irish Blessing

May you live to be a hundred years,
With one extra year to repent.
- Irish Blessing

And a little John Mayer to mellow you out and get you through the rest of the work week:

*** ALSO: Funny Sarcastic Sayings for St. Patricks Day - Cheeky Quote Day 17 Mar 2010

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