This month, the Irish and the Irish at heart come out in full green shamrocks, clothes, flowers, food and a lot of good Irish stout.
Today, March 17, is the date to celebrate St. Patrick's Day all over the world. This is the only holiday that is actually celebrated internationally.
The Feast of St. Patrick is a cultural and religious celebration celebrating Irish culture with dancing, parades, special foods and to honor St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.
St. Patrick truly was a saint for the Irish people. He lived a true life of adventure and even though there were other Christian missionaries in Ireland before he came back to spend the rest of his lifethere, he is credited with converting Ireland to Christianity in the AD 400s.
There are so many legends surrounding his life that the truth is not easy to find. He did write a book, "Confession," that has helped historians somewhat. He was captured by pirates when he was 16 and became a slave shepherd boy in another country. He spent years as a lone shepherd and turned to prayer day and night. One night he had a dream that he should leave and go home. He did successfully walk 200 miles, talked his way onto a ship and returned to Ireland.
He returned to his family but was not welcomed by the people. He gradually gained their trust and love, and was responsible for their understanding of religion as he saw it and the Holy Trinity he taught them.
The shamrock, which has three leaves, was his symbol, and the four-leaf clover, while celebrated worldwide as an Irish symbol, is not the Holy Trinity.
The biggest Irish myth misconception is the traditional corned beef and cabbage dish that is actually an American-Irish tradition. When the Irish immigrated to the states, they were very poor. They had been very poor before they came. Their meat was mostly bacon. Corned beef was cheap meat and a good replacement for bacon. It was their favorite hearty meal, reminding them of their homeland. Because they were the only ones cooking this tasty dish, it became a popular Irish-American dish.
Gardening in Ireland is about the same as here. Home gardens grow kale, carrots, cabbage, onions and beets, etc. They do have a grant program gig, "Get Ireland Growing." It funds organizations and community gardening projects. The surplus foods are given to the needy or sold. Over 400 community projects are involved.
Why would you pinch your friend on St. Patrick's Day? Because they are not wearing green. Ancient revelers though wearing green made them invisible to the pesky leprechauns.
Also: St. Paddy Day - never; St. Pats - if you must; St. Patty - no, ye goat; St. Patrick's Day - grand!
There is a little bit of Irish in us all at this time of the year. So, put on a big smile, a shamrock in your hair, eat tasty corned beef and cabbage, and wash it down with a wee bit of that Irish stout. Or, at least get a green milkshake at you know where.
Happy gardening till we meet again.
H.I. Jean Shields is Past President of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.