Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Blarney and Blight ~ St. Patrick's Day
Celebrating St.Patrick's Day for most of my life was pretty much un-eventful and un-remarkable. I just had to make sure to wear green to school so as not to be pinched. Sometimes our Mother would make corned beef and hash to celebrate the day but with my intense dislike and distaste of potatoes this was not a good thing. Years later while homeschooling our three children we decided to do a little research on St.Patrick and write about it in a family newspaper we published and sent out to all our family. I was particularly struck by surprise at the fact that St. Patrick was NOT Irish by birth. Who knew? Regarding St.Patrick there is a very rich and controversial history and you can look it up on Wikipedia and proceed from there if you're interested. What I do find the more interesting though is the history of the Irish people that has caused St.Patrick's Day to be a VERY BIG THING here in America. In researching all things Irish ( I am not Irish ) I am amazed at how the Irish have influenced the world, and much of the spread of the Irish influence came about because of great tragedy. ~Long ago, when a person left his home- land and traveled over sea or great land distances they were most likely never going to see the family left behind ever again. Remember, there were no phones, cell phones, or e-mails, and until the 90's , even if a family had a phone - long distance telephone calls were prohibitively expensive . Letters were the only means of keeping in touch and losing family to distant lands was almost like losing them to death. "During the next years Ireland suffered greatly from the worst disaster in it's entire history. 1.5 million (MILLION!!!!*) people , about 20% of the Irish population dies from starvation in what was called the Great Famine....Sadly, this tragedy could have been avoided as Ireland had enough wheat to feed its' population. However , the wheat was instead imported to England, as the British Government did not realize the seriousness of the problem ( controversial statement*) As a result the Irish were left with no alternatives to the potato..." and there was a potato blight that rotted all the potato crops.* (Causes Of the Irish Emigration by Linda Magnusson ) (* my words) Because of malnutrition many Irish succumbed to disease , due mainly to eating the rotten potatoes. This great tragedy inspired many to emigrate and the Irish left in droves , more than a million landed in North America, and Canada and America are the better for it. So I choose to celebrate St. Patrick's Day thanking the God of St. Patrick, my God, for the Irish and all they have contributed to the world ~ and I might just make some Irish soda bread to go with my dinner tonight! Happy Saint Patrick's Day to you.