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17 March 2009

La Fheile Padraig

As far as I know, I'm not Irish. Today is March 17, Saint Patrick's Day, and there will be celebrations round the world. What is the meaning behind this Irish celebration?

Saint Patrick's Day is an annual feast day that celebrates Saint Patrick, one of the patron saints of Ireland, and is generally celebrated on March 17. In Ireland, it is a national holiday: Northern Ireland celebrates a bank holiday, and the republic of Ireland calls it a public holiday. The Irish have celebrated this day for more than a thousand years. Here in America, we celebrate, but it is not an official holiday. Who is Saint Patrick and why is he celebrated?

March 17 is generally accepted as the date of Patrick's death. He was English born to wealthy parents, kidnapped at 16 and held in captivity in Ireland for 6 years. During his time of captivity, he found solace in his religion and became a devout Christian. Some years later, he returned to Ireland to spread Christianity. Although it is part of Irish folklore, the banishing of the snakes credited to Saint Patrick appears to be more a metaphor for the rise of Christianity and the decline in paganism. March 17, Saint Patrick's Day, is a Catholic religious feast day in Ireland: a day celebrated in memory of a saint by special services and rest from work. Today, Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated by Irish and non-Irish alike.

Whether it be Saint Patrick's Day, or simply Tuesday, each day is a gift to be celebrated. Every day that I wake up is a chance for a new beginning. Whether I wear green, eat corned beef and cabbage, or go about my normal routine, I do not need to lose site of the importance of this day. Remember the song from Sunday school? "This is the day ... this is the day ... this is the day that the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it."

Today I give thanks for the many blessings that God has seen fit to bestow upon me. Look around, take stock, and give thanks of your own. Remember that He is good ... and He is God. Through Him all things are possible!! An Irish saying that I have heard through the years feels appropriate to close this devotion:

May you be in heaven one half hour before the devil knows you're dead.

Accepting Jesus as your savior guarantees that you'll be in heaven ... and it won't matter if the devil knows you're dead!

Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.~Psalm 96:2 NIV

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