Are Holidays Holy Days? Part 3 – St. Patrick’s Day

Saint Patrick’s Day, a day of where everyone wears green in order to not get pinched and good luck. Is that it? Sounds more like superstitious acts and I am sure there is more underneath just wearing green. Why would this even be a holiday in the first place? Let’s cut to the chase and see what there is hidden beneath the service.

History

Patrick, Saint

This day is titled from Saint Patrick which was born in Britain that later went to Ireland. A lot of his time in Ireland was harsh and cruel from raiders to starvation. He is known for two writings, one the autobiography Confessio and the other a farewell letter to Coroticus. His first time in Ireland he eventually fled back to Britain but then returned back to Ireland a second time for teaching. There are two famous legends attached to him one being where it is claimed he drove all the snakes of Ireland into the sea and the other of how it is said he used the shamrock (a clover) to explain the Trinity of God. These are however just legends.[1]

This first day of this celebration was in 1737 by the Charitable Irish Society of Boston which included a feast and having a religious service. The holiday lasted like this for some time but in 1762, New York the first parade started having Irish soldiers march down Broadway which is why military is now associated. This slowly evolved to the now modern version of St. Patrick’s day.[2]

Other Customs

Looking at the pagan calendar we can see that there are other things going on at the same day. First, we can see that on this day it is the end of the Ash Celtic tree month. Next we find two Roman events one of Agonalia and the other being Liberalia. It also appears that every year on this day there is a planetary ingress that occurs.[3] An ingress is an astrological term which means that of when a planet moves into a new sign of the zodiac or a new “house.”[4]

Ram being sacrificed for Agonalia

Agonalia is a Roman event that took place several times a year occurring on January 9th, March 17th (Saint Patrick’s Day), May 7th, and December 11th. For January they served Janus, March they served Mars, May they served Veiovis, and December seems to be unknown.[5] This event usually consisted of offering sacrifices of a ram being served unto the deity of that month. The name agonalia seemed to have many possibilities of origin from agony being related to the animals that were sacrificed to the Greek name of games, the agones.[6] The only other information that can really be observed of this event is that the Romans gave gifts to one another which ranged from dates, figs, jars of honey, and some money. Not certain if this was related to one specific month or occurred regularly during each event.[7]

The next Roman event , Liberalia, was a festival always held on March 17th to the god Liber Pater who represented viniculture (cultivation of grapes for wine), fertility, freedom, and protection of one’s seed. Activities for this day included hanging masks in trees and then carrying a large phallus (another word for the male reproductive organ) across fields in hope of fertility and to ward away evil. Worshipers also took part in loud songs of vulgar and careless actions of sexual conduct. After the worshipers finished with these obscenities, they joyfully crowned the head of the phallus with garland.[8]

Liberalia was also a day for the young boys that came to the age of being able to remove the bulla and the toga praetexta of childhood trading in for the toga virilis.[8] The bulla was an amulet that only the male children was given after nine days being born. The amulets would contain protective items inside being of phallic symbols.[9] The toga praetexta was a white toga (Roman robe) that had a purple stripe on its border while the toga virilis was a plain white robe.  The toga virilis was given to the males around the age of 14.[10]

Mythology

Before moving on let us see what these two deities, that pertain to the month of March, represent.

Mars

The first deity, coming from Agonalia, is Mars. I will exclude the other deities associated with Agonalia to keep on track of the day of Saint Patrick’s day (March 17th). The name of March originates from this god Mars.[11] Mars started out as a god of spring, growth in nature, fertility, and protector of cattle. Later he became the god of death then finally being the god of war. Mars is claimed as the father of Romulus and Remus (the two founders of Rome in mythology) and his importance is second of that from Jupiter and Neptune.[12,13]

The Liberalia Cover

Liber Pater

The next god that was mentioned related to this day is Liber Pater; his name meaning “the free father” also known just as Liber meaning “the free one.” As stated before, he is the god of viticulture (and seems to be viniculture as well; seems to be a small debate on the two words), fertility, and freedom. The festival Liberalia, that was looked at, originates on the basis of his concept of being free allowing free rights and free speech. A southern port city of Latium below Rome, Lavinium, served Liber as a phallic god. Understanding this, you can see why Liberalia is carried out in such manners.[14]

Meanings of the Modern Activities

Now let us look at the reasons behind everything we know today about Saint Patrick’s day.

We know that it is named after the Catholic saint Patrick who traveled to Ireland and became popular upon his missionary work. We derived to the association of using green simply because Ireland is known for it’s green lands, the flag has green in it, and green symbolizes spring and rebirth/growth.[15]

So what about the idea of if one is not wearing green they get pinched? This comes from the thought of wearing green is supposedly to ward off leprechaun. Leprechauns are an Irish legend of creatures that enjoyed the concept of mischievousness with humans and the possibility of harming humans as well. The pinch is to remind one who is not wearing green about the idea.[15]

Leprechaun of folklore

Leprechaun comes from the Old Irish word luchorpan which means “small body.”[16] They are considered a type of magical fairy and from the context of Irish folklore, they were considered lustful and nasty with deception always in mind. It is associated that in the world of such folklore, creatures of the sort had a specific sound when they arrived and for the leprechaun it was the tapping of a hammer. This “announcement of arrival” is compared with similar creatures such as the Irish fairy banshee (banshee is an Irish female spirit that cries loudly before someone dies) and a Hispanic ghost called La Llorona meaning “The Wheeping Woman.”[17] To summarize all these similar creatures we can just categorize them vaguely into just all fairies while defining them as small creatures with human-like appearances and having magical powers. The word fairy derives from the 12th century Old French word faerie which has meanings of “land of fairies, meeting of fairies; enchantment, magic, witchcraft, sorcery.”[18]

Shamrock or clover

Shamrocks or the clovers, can obviously been seen as the most iconic symbol for St. Patrick’s day. One of the meanings comes from the previously mentioned legend where the Catholic saint Patrick used this plant to teach the concept of the Holy Trinity. The Celtics viewed the shamrock as representation of abundance, nurturing, fertility, productivity, and stability. It is claimed, as well, that the shamrock possesses mystic abilities due to its upright stance before a storm. Likewise, it is given the credibility of being a good luck charm.[19]

Finally, we find the tradition of simply drinking beer and that of getting drunk. Whether it be and Irish drink or not it is all alcoholic and probably even related around a big party.

What the Bible Has to Say

Now it is time to go to God’s word to see what He declares of the events and actions related to this day.

First, we have the Agonalia sacrifices and gift giving to the god Mars. These verses should be remembered from the latter part(s). Also remember that Mars is the god of war.

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. [Gal. 5:19-21 KJV]

Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? [Ezk. 33:11 KJV]

Next we have the Liberalia ceremonies of fertility worshiping the phallus and the obscene sexual behaviour. Nonetheless, another form of idol worship.

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: [Col 3:5-6 KJV]

This verse is more suiting for the situation. It talks about fornication but then goes on to mention inordinate affection (affection that exceeds the reasonable limits), evil concupiscence (meaning evil strong sexual desires), and then covetousness (a very strong desire for something that is not yours and/or belongs to someone else). All of this is rolled up around lust.

 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. [1 John 2:15-16 KJV]

To go further and cover the extra possibilities of what may have happened, considering of the phallic idol and that of young boys becoming of age along with them conducting freedom in action and speech, it can be assumed a possibility of the disgusting sodomy.

And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; [Rom. 1:27-28 KJV]

The modern aspect that has been added to this day of wearing green to ward away the mischievous leprechauns is nothing but superstition related to keeping away bad spirits. Obviously a leprechaun is a myth and not from God since it causes harm, performs trickery, and deceit. The bible talks about such things clearly.

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.  For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. [1 Tim. 4:1-8 KJV]

Reading these verses, we can see that it is proclaimed that it is unwise and we should refuse to follow old wives’ fables and look toward things of godliness; this is much more profitable. An old wives’ fable (or tale), is a common belief about something that is not from facts and usually not true. This covers more than just the leprechauns but anything else that would be a mythical creature.

Now onto the last possible event of drinking. I want to divide this into two parts one about being drunk and then the other just about alcoholic drinks in general. Let us first see what is said about being drunk. The first set of verses I have used repetitively.

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. [Gal. 5:19-21 KJV]

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. [1 Cor. 6:9-10 KJV]

We can see that is is reinstated that drunkards will not inherit the kingdom of God. Now let us look to alcoholic drinks altogether.  I will only scratch the surface here because this can cause many to debate. The bible classifies two type of drinks; wine and strong drink. First, take a look at this verse.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. [1 Cor. 6:19-20 KJV]

Our body is God’s temple for the Holy Ghost to live within. This temple is to be kept clean and holy. If this temple is not clean, the Holy Ghost will not strive to stay but will leave. Now let’s turn to the context of one of the requirements for those who were to be doing God’s work.

And the Lord spake unto Aaron, saying, Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations: And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean; [Lev. 10:8-10 KJV]

Here God told Aaron to abstain away from alcoholic drinks in order to be classified as holy. This was the process of the old covenant for making sacrifices in the tabernacle one must be holy to enter God’s temple. The temple was built to stay holy and any that was unholy who entered would die. Things work a little different now than back then where we have the new covenant. Even though we have the new covenant this does not mean that the old covenant is thrown away but rather they are put together. Some processes are changed as that like the sacrifices. We no longer need to perform sacrifices since Jesus Christ gave His life for us on the cross; he was the perfect sacrifice. Our bodies are the temple for the Holy Ghost to live within and they must be kept clean or the Holy Ghost will “die” away from us. The Holy Ghost will not die in the sense of not existing entirely but be “dead” to the individual who is not holy. Once one has regained the aspect of being holy, the Holy Ghost can return. The Holy Ghost will never literally die since He is one with God, forming the Trinity.

Here are more scriptures that reiterate the aspect of abstaining away from alcoholic drinks to stay holy.

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. [Dan. 1:8 KJV]

And the angel of the Lord appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son. Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing: For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. [Judg. 13:3-5 KJV]

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the Lord: He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried. All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk. All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the Lord, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow. All the days that he separateth himself unto the Lord he shall come at no dead body. He shall not make himself unclean for his father, or for his mother, for his brother, or for his sister, when they die: because the consecration of his God is upon his head. All the days of his separation he is holy unto the Lord. [Num. 6:1-8 KJV]

 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. [Rom. 14:17-21 KJV]

References

  1. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/446636/Saint-Patrick
  2. http://www.wilstar.com/holidays/patrick.htm
  3. http://pagancalendar.co.uk/index.php?gotoyear=2015&gotomonth=3
  4. http://theastrologydictionary.com/i/ingress/
  5. http://www.pantheon.org/articles/a/agonalia.html
  6. http://www.witchipedia.com/feast:agonalia
  7. http://www.musesrealm.net/rome/festivalsinfo.html
  8. http://www.ancientworlds.net/aw/Article/1260857
  9. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulla_%28amulet%29
  10. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toga
  11. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=March&allowed_in_frame=0
  12. http://www.pantheon.org/articles/m/mars.html
  13. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_(mythology)
  14. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liber
  15. http://www.ehow.com/about_6640513_st_-day-_amp_-origin-pinching.html
  16. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=leprechaun&allowed_in_frame=0
  17. http://www.livescience.com/37626-leprechauns.html
  18. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=fairy&allowed_in_frame=0
  19. http://www.ancient-symbols.com/celtic_symbols.html
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