Are you ready to wear green?

This morning, (Sunday) when I got ready to go to church, I stuck my head out the door to check the thermometer, and went back inside and got a jacket! It was 42º out there and too cool for shirt sleeves. Of course, I had the heater on to go to church and then around noon, when I went to town to run a couple of errands, the air conditioner was on, ho hum…this is Texas. This past week was busy as always…meetings, pokeno, and working at the gift shop.

We finalized our prizes for our Auxiliary spring raffle, and Thursday afternoon found me in a back office operating an old time paper cutter, getting our tickets ready for sale. This week, I’ll have a daughter, granddaughter and a couple of great granddaughters to help me shampoo the carpet in the living room, so furniture can be moved back in, my sister and I hung the pictures back on the wall after I wiped the walls and everything looks great.
“St. Patrick’s Day, no more we’ll keep, his color can’t be seen, they’ve passed a bloody law ‘agin, (against) the wearing of the green”. Thus went the words of a song we sang when I was in grade school. It wasn’t until many years later that I learned that the word ‘bloody’ was a curse word, and not used in polite company! The 17th is St. Patrick’s Day, a day the Irish and the “wanna be” Irish celebrate. “Erin go Bragh”, shillelagh, shamrocks, green ribbons, scones, and Irish stew will be the order of the day. Over the years in reading different books and articles, I’ve come across the Irish cop (usually in Chicago, sometimes in New York) telling someone to straighten out, “Before I lay me shillelagh up alongside your head”. (This was his night stick, they usually straightened out).
Some of the following information about Ireland and St. Patrick’s was gleaned from the Internet several years ago, and some of it is from our older papers. Hope it doesn’t sound too familiar.
When it comes to stories about St. Patrick and his day, legend and truth are totally intertwined.
The young man who was later to become St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was born in Wales around AD 385. His given name was Maewyn, and due to lack of required scholarship, he almost didn’t get the job of Bishop of Ireland.
Until the age of 16, he considered himself a pagan. At that time, after a raid on his village, he and other young men were sold into slavery in Ireland. During his time of captivity, he learned the Irish language and also moved closer to God.
After six years, he was able to escape from slavery and went to Gaul. There, he studied in the Monastery under St. Germain, Bishop of Auxerre, for a period of 12 years. While he was in training, he became aware that he was being called to convert the pagans to Christianity. He was ordained as a deacon, then as a priest and finally as a bishop. Pope Celestine then sent him to Ireland to preach the gospel. He became a great traveler, especially in the Celtic countries, as they are numerous places in Brittany, Cornwall, Wales, Scotland and Ireland named after him.
St. Patrick is most known the world over for having driven the snakes from Ireland. Different tales tell of his standing upon a hill, using a wooden staff to drive the serpents into the sea, banishing them forever from the shores of Ireland. One legend says that one old serpent resisted, but the saint overcame it by cunning. He is said to have made a box and invited the reptile to enter. The snake insisted the box was too small, and the discussion became very heated. Finally, the snake entered the box to prove he was right, whereupon St. Patrick slammed the lid and cast the box into the sea.
While it is true that there are no snakes in Ireland, chances are that there never have been since the time the island was separated from the rest of the continent at the end of the ice age. As in many old pagan religions, serpent symbols were common, and possibly even worshipped. Driving the snakes from Ireland was probably symbolic of putting an end to that pagan practice.
The legend of the shamrock is also connected with the banishment of snakes from Ireland by a tradition that snakes are never seen on trefoil and that it is a remedy against the stings of snakes and scorpions.
While not the first to bring Christianity to Ireland, it was Patrick who encountered the Druids at Tara, and abolished their pagan rights. He converted the warrior chiefs and princes, baptizing them and thousands of their subjects in the holy Wells, which still bear that name.
According to tradition, St. Patrick died in AD 493 and was buried in the same grave as St. Bridget and St. Columba at Donpatrick County. But, also according to other information I have found, St. Patrick died on March 17, in AD 461 and that day has been commemorated as St. Patrick’s Day ever since.
Another legend says St. Patrick ended his days at Glastonbury and was buried there. The Chapel of St. Patrick still exists as part of Glastonbury abbey. There is evidence of an Irish pilgrimage to his tomb during the reign of the Saxon King Ine in AD 688, when a group of pilgrims headed by St. Indractus were murdered.
The shamrock has long been Associated with St. Patrick. He used the three-leafed shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity. It was used in his sermons to represent how the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit could all exist as separate elements of the same entity.  
The followers of Patrick adopted the custom of wearing a shamrock on his feast day. The custom of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day came to America in 1737, when it was celebrated publicly in Boston for the first time.
The Irish have their own language, Gaelic. One (of several) of the assistant pastors at our church in San Antonio spoke and wrote the language fluently. When written, it looks nothing like what we are used to seeing!
Now, not only do they have their own language, they also use different names in English for things here in America. Here are a few of the more common; biscuits-cookies; bangers-sausage; colcannon-boiled cabbage and potatoes; coddle-a stew made from pork, sausage, potatoes and onions; champ or poundies-mashed potatoes with green onions and a well of butter in the middle; praties-potatoes; rasher-slice of bacon; crubeens-pigs feet (trotters) cooked with carrots, onions and spices or dipped in seasoned breadcrumbs and fried; and, believe it or not, corned beef and cabbage is not a traditional Irish dish! So, you ask, what is traditional food? One could start the day with a dish of porridge with a topping of cream or honey, followed by a full Irish breakfast fry, consisting of sausage, bacon, fried eggs, fried tomatoes, black pudding, white pudding, toast and brown soda bread.  
Now, here is a recipe which is truly Irish!
Oatmeal Raisin Scones
2 cups flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teapsoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup chilled butter (do not substitute)
1½ cups oatmeal (either old-fashioned or quick-cooking, but not instant)
½ cup raisins
1 cup buttermilk
Cinnamon and sugar for sprinkling on top
Preheat oven to 375ºF Mix together, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut chilled butter into dry ingredients with a pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in oatmeal and raisins. Add buttermilk and mix with fork until dough forms a ball. Turn out onto lightly floured board and knead 6 to 8 times. Pat dough into ½-inch thickness and cut into 8 to 10 rounds, or shape into large circle and cut into 8 to 10 wedges. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.