St. Patrick's Day represents more than the ancient folklore of snakes and shamrocks and the color green. It also coincides with the promise of Spring which is always a welcome relief for those who have endured a long cold Winter. It is of particular interest that such a holiday is celebrated during the season of energetic Spring (according to traditional Chinese medicine [TCM]). The energy of energetic Spring is called “Wood” and it is represented by the color green. Wood energy cleanses, purifies, sprouts new life and has the potential, when used creatively, to help balance our emotional state.
“Until the 1700s, St. Patrick’s Day was a Roman Catholic feast only observed in Ireland—and without the raucous revelry of today’s celebrations. Instead, the faithful spent the relatively somber occasion in quiet prayer at church or at home. That started to change when Irish immigrants living in the United States began organizing parades and other events on March 17 as a show of pride.” —Jennie Cohen, St. Patrick’s Day Myths Debunked, history.com
The Color Green
The wearing of the color green which is so emblematic of St. Patrick’s Day may be traced to the eighteenth century when the backers of Irish independence took on the color to represent their cause.
"The modern celebration of St. Patrick's Day really has almost nothing to do with the real man," says Western culture professor Philip Freeman of Pepperdine University.
Originally a Britt, Patrick was kidnapped and taken to Ireland to tend sheep as a slave in the chilly mountainous region of the country for seven years. Not particularly religious before, it was there that he got religion and became a devout Christian. He escaped his slavery to reunite with his family back home in England only to return to Ireland on counsel received in a dream. There he became a priest and later a bishop where he was “constantly beaten by thugs, harassed by the Irish royalty, and admonished by his British superiors,” according to John Roach, author of St. Patrick's Day Facts: Shamrocks, Snakes, and a Saint, National Geographic Magazine.
According to St. Patrick's Day lore, St. Pat used the leaves of the shamrock as a teaching metaphor to describe the holy trinity, but the custom of wearing a shamrock comes from the eighteenth century when the shamrock emerged as a symbol of Irish nationalism during the 1798 Irish Rebellion against English colonialism. The shamrock seems to have been adopted as a symbol of St. Patrick’s Day when fervor for the holiday intensified at that time.
As for driving snakes out of Ireland, there is no evidence that a preponderance of snakes existed anywhere in the region. Perhaps the mythos is more metaphorical than literal where snakes were villains and non-believers at the time (fifth century A. D.).
As we can see, today the holiday celebration looks nothing like it did centuries ago.
“For many people around the world, St. Patrick’s Day has evolved into a secular ode to Irish culture (or at least an oversimplified version of it), characterized by parties, music and iconic foods.” —Jennie Cohen, St. Patrick’s Day Myths Debunked, history.com
St. Pat’s Day merrymaking and revelry can bring a temporary lightness to our spirits during this time of year when hope springs and we look forward to the gushing forth of new life and new possibilities. In concert with that, be sure to check out our Spring seasonal/Wood element line of skincare. The Wood line addresses Wood imbalances in the skin such as oiliness, blackheads, hyperpigmentation. Essential oil-rich, it smells like invigorating Spring, clarifies the skin and can assist your emotional balance when you're feeling uncertainty, self-doubt and anger. Restore your confident true nature and march in those parades!
Cohen, Jennie. “St. Patrick's Day Myths Debunked.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 16 Mar. 2012, www.history.com/news/st-patricks-day-myths-debunked.
“St. Patrick's Day Facts: Shamrocks, Snakes, and a Saint.” National Geographic, National Geographic Society, 18 Mar. 2010, news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/03/100316-st-patricks-day-facts-shamrocks/.