Spell of the Day for Friday, March 17th – A Solitary Ostara Rite with Lore by Scott Cunningham (Part 1 & 2)

A Solitary Ostara Rite with Lore

A traditional Vernal Equinox pastime: go to a field and randomly collect wildflowers.* Or, buy some from a florist, taking one or two of those that appeal to you. Then bring them home and divine their magical meanings by the use of books, your own intuition, a pendulum dulum or by other means. The flowers you’ve chosen reveal your inner thoughts and emotions.


It is important at this time of renewed life to plan a walk (or a ride) through gardens, a park, woodlands, forest and other green places. This is not simply exercise, and you should be on no other mission. It isn’t even just an appreciation of nature. Make your walk celebratory, a ritual for nature itself.


A Sample of just a little of the Ostara Lore that will be found in this episode. Also a very, simple but elegant Ostara ritual to feel our Mother Earth awakening within our very fingertips.


Part 2 of this Spell of the Day will include how to do the Circle of Stones and also the Blessing Chant that is included in this ritual. We hope you enjoy this very special ritual and lore by one of the day’s most prominent Pagan authors.




Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner
Scott Cunningham
includes authors’ book of shadows


Currently on sale on Amazon.com with numerous other books by Mr. Cunningham

We Wish You A Very Blessed Friday & A Beautiful Weekend Full of the Goddess’ Blessings & Love….

Rose & Butterfly Celtic Blessings

Grant, O God/Goddess, Thy Protection;
And in protection, strength;
And in strength, understanding;
And in understanding, knowledge;
And in knowledge, the knowledge of justice;
And in the knowledge of justice, the love of it;
And in that love, the love of all existences;
And in the love of all existences, the love of God/Goddess.
God/Goddess and all goodness.
Who will hold my hand?
Who will send the energy on to weave a circle of light?
I call on the light,
I call to the Lord and the Lady, whatever you wish to call them,
I call to the four corners of the Earth,
Strengthen this circle and let the power grow,
Let the love flow!


–A Druidic Prayer
–Amended From: The Book Of Druidry by Ross Nichols


Irish Protection Sachets

Irish Protection Sachets

  • All-Purpose Protection Sachet:

    • Rosemary, Basil & Dill herbs.  

    • Place the dried herbs in a red or white cloth.

    • Tie it up with red yarn and place over the front door for protection.

  • Anti-Theft Sachet:

    • Caraway, Rosemary, Juniper & Elder herbs.

    • Place in a white cloth, tie with white yarn.

    • Hang somewhere prominently in your home.

  • Weather Protection Sachet:

    • Cedar, Mistletoe, Bay herbs.

    • Place in a white cloth, tie with white yarn.

    • Hang it in the highest place in the house.

  • Place a statue of a CAT on your roof for protection.

  • A statue of a Lion, Griffin or Dragon placed on your front porch will lend protection.

  • Scattering Rice on your roof will diffuse any evil forces sent your way.

  • Plant a Cactus at each corner of your houses foundation.This guards against unwanted influences and powers.

  • Hazelnuts strung on a red cord and hung in the home bring luck and money.

  • 3 I Ching Coins strung on a red cord and place on the doorknob on the inside of your front door will project against evil and danger.  Brings good

  • A sprig of Mistletoe hung from the ceiling protects home against hostile spirits.

An Irish Witch Bottle for Protection

An Irish Witch Bottle for Protection

  • Find a small bottle and fill it with needles, pins and Rosemary.

  • As you add these things to the bottle say: “Pins, needles, rosemary, wine. 

  •  In this Witch’s bottle of mine; Guard against harm and enmity; This is my will, so mote it be”

  • Visualize the herbs doing just that.  When the bottle is full, add red wine.

  • Cork or cap the bottle.  Drip wax from a RED or BLACK Candle to seal the bottle.

  • Bury the bottle at the furthest corner of your property or in the house out of sight.

  • The bottle destroys negativity and evil and protects you and your property.

St. Patricks Day: Why He Slaughtered the Druids

St. Patricks Day: Why He Slaughtered the Druids

St. Patrick was born around 450 AD on the Scottish border. His father was a Christian Roman soldier and his mother was a native British woman. Only two of his letters survive telling details about his life. When he was fourteen to sixteen years old, he was taken into captivity in Ireland by the Irish raiders in Britain; he tended cattle for more than six years. In this time of captivity, he drew closer to God before finally escaping on a trading ship. He returned years later to spread Catholicism throughout Ireland while destroying the Druids who resisted Roman and British rule in Ireland. Because he believed so strongly in the Catholic Church, he thought that anyone who was not Christian had to become one in order to be ³saved´. Those who resisted were slaughtered in the Christian holy wars of Gaul


The Irish people at that time were happy and doing quite well. However, St.Patrick was insistent that the Pagan Celts convert to Christianity. He noticed that the Druids were the most powerful people of the Celts, so he figured that if he could convert them, then the rest of the people would follow. When the Druids refused to be bribed by the Romans, this angered the rulers of the Catholic Church.St. Patrick declared that he would drive all of the snakes out of Ireland. ³Snakes´was a metaphor for the Druids.
Since the Druids did not write their teachings down, all we know about them is was handed down to us by the Romans. It was often said that the Celts were heathens who could not read or write, but they did know how to read and write in Greek. While they didn¶t write down the secret teachings of the Druids, they were expected to memorize the knowledge. Julius Caesar had this to say about the Druids:
The Druids usually hold aloof from war, and do not pay war-taxes with the rest; they are excused from military service and exempt from all liabilities. Tempted by these great rewards, many young men assemble of their own motion to receive their training; many are sent by parents and relatives. Report says that in the schools of the Druids. They learn by heart a great number of verses, and therefore some persons remain twenty years in training. And they do not think it proper to commit these utterances to writing,although in almost all other matters, and in their private and public accounts, they make use of Greek letters. I believe that they have adopted the practice for two reasons ± that they do not wish the rule to become common property, nor those who learn the rule to rely on writing and so neglect the cultivation of the memory;and, in fact, it does usually happen that the assistance of writing tends to relax the diligence of the student and the action of the memory. The cardinal doctrine which they seek to teach is that souls do not die, but after death pass from one to another; and this belief, as the fear of death is thereby cast aside, they hold to be the greatest incentive to valour. (Caesar The Gallic War VI.13-14)


We do know that Druidism was a science and not a religion. It was the study of the relationships between opposites: summer and winter, men and women,consciousness and unconsciousness, force and matter. Some of the main tenets:

*Every action has a consequence that must be observed and you must be prepared to compensate for your actions if required.
* Life is sacred and all are responsible for seeing that this standard is upheld.

*You do still live in society and are bound by its rules.

*Work with high standards.

*Make an honest living.

*Be a good host as well as a good guest.

*Take care of yourself. (Health was held in high esteemamongst the Celts, so much that a person could be finedfor being grossly overweight due to lack of care.)

*Serve your community.

*Maintain a healthy balance of the spiritual and mundane.(Nihtscad writes: Ethical and self respecting Druids did nothing without being properly schooled or aware of the consequences ahead of time. They knew when it was appropriate to visit the Otherworld and immerse themselves in the spiritual as well as when it was appropriate to be fully in this world.

*Uphold the Truth, starting with yourself.

*Be sure in your convictions, particularly when judging or accusing someone, but also when debating. Ask yourself:are you really sure? Do you really know that this the case?


One part of the Druid class were the ³Bards´, whose job it was to remember all of the history of the people. The Celts did not rely on a written language because they memorized the songs and poetry of the Bards. The Irish believed that history was very important, for if you didn¶t remember what had happened in the past, you couldn¶t safely plan for the future.Druid priests were the keepers of the knowledge of
Earth and Spirits. It was their responsibility to learn the spirit world in order to keep people in harmony with nature. Priests performed marriages, baptisms, and acted as psychiatrists and doctors.The Romans considered the Celts to be good fighters. In 300 BC, Alexander the Great considered it prudent to treat the Celts as equals. In the fourth century,Ammianus Marcellinus, a Byzantine writer, wrote of the Celts:
Nearly all the Gaels are of a lofty stature, fair and of ruddy complexion:terrible from the sternness of their eyes, and of great pride and insolence. A whole troop of foreigners would not be able to withstand a single Gaul if he called his wife to his assistance, which is usually very strong and with blue eyes.


Ancient Celtic women could be warriors. Legend says that Scathach, a female warrior from Isle of Skye in Scotland, trained a great Irish hero, Cuchilainn. Boudicca, a red-haired queen of the British Iceni tribe, led a revolt against the Romans following her husband¶s death.During large battles, the Celts had a strategy to terrify their opponents: they blew war horns, they roared, they rumbled chariots, they banged their swords on their shields, and then they attacked the enemy. These tactics did not work against the well-trained Romans who were trained to resist the attacks of their enemies. The Celts became disheartened by their inability to break the Romans quickly. The main reason why the Celts lost the war was due to the fact that they were not united. Clans attacked farms and stole cattle and other goods during the battles.This caused many Celts to view their own clans as enemies and kept them from uniting as a people. They did not understand how important it was to fight together as an army against the Romans.St. Patrick destroyed the influence of the Druids by destroying the sacred sites of the people and building churches and monasteries where the Druids used to live and teach. Instead of hearing the teachings and advice of the Druids, the people began to hear the teachings of Rome. Because the Druids were the only ones who were taught to remember the history, with the Druids dead and their influence broken, the history was forgot


By killing off the teachers and the wise ones, Catholicism could be spread. For this mass conversion of a culture to Christianity, and for the killing of thousands of innocent people, Patrick was made a Saint by his church.

Why Do We Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

Why Do We Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

The history of St Patrick’s Day in America, however, begins with Irish soldiers serving in the British army. Befitting of the Irish, it is a tale of Irish patriotism and evolving political power. That very first parade in New York City not only helped the homesick Irish soldiers connect with their roots through the familiar strains of traditional Irish music—usually featuring bagpipes and drums, but also helped them to connect with one another, finding strength in numbers. Over the years as nearly a million Irish immigrants fled to America in the wake of the Great Potato Famine, St Patrick’s Day parades became a display of solidarity and political strength as these often ridiculed Irish immigrants were frequently victims of prejudice. Soon enough, their numbers were recognized and the Irish soon organized and exerted their political muscle, becoming known as the “green machine”.


Today, St Patrick’s Day celebrations abound. Decidedly less religious, St Patrick’s Day celebrations continue to be a show of Irish strength and patriotism. So, get our your green and get ready to celebrate!


How Green Became Associated With St. Patrick’s Day and All Things Irish
On St. Patrick’s Day, everyone is seeing green—whether it’s the green Chicago River, green beer, green milkshakes or green clothing and bead necklaces. Many might believe that the Emerald Isle and the color green are linked because of the country’s verdant landscape, but the association actually traces its roots to Irish political history.


In fact, blue is believed to have been associated with Ireland before green was. Henry the VIII claimed to be king of Ireland in the 16th century, and his flag at that point would have been blue. That’s at least one reason why a blue flag with a harp is associated with the Irish President. (The harp is one of the two main symbols of Ireland, along with the Shamrock, and it dates back to the bards whose songs and stories were the chief entertainment in medieval Gaelic society.) A light blue became associated with the Order of St. Patrick, an 18th century era order of knights, perhaps to create a shade of blue for the Irish that was different from the royal blue associated with the English, says Timothy McMahon, Vice President of the American Conference for Irish Studies.


McMahon argues the earliest use of green for nationalistic reasons was seen during the violent Great Irish Rebellion of 1641, in which displaced Catholic landowners and bishops rebelled against the authority of the English crown, which had established a large plantation in the north of Ireland under King James I in the early 17th century. Military commander Owen Roe O’Neill helped lead the rebellion, and used a green flag with a harp to represent the Confederation of Kilkenny, a group that sought to govern Ireland and kick out the Protestants who had taken control of that land in the north of Ireland. (They were ultimately defeated by Oliver Cromwell.)


The color green cropped up again during an effort in the 1790s to bring nonsectarian, republican ideas to Ireland, inspired by the American revolution and the French revolution. The main society that promoted this idea, the Society of United Irishmen, wore green, especially an Irish version of the “liberty caps” worn during the French Revolution. One police report described their uniform as comprised of a dark green shirt cloth coat, green and white striped trousers, and a felt hat turned up on one side with a green emblematic cockade.


Though the rest of the uniform eventually faded from popular wear, the importance of the color green spread, thanks in part to the poems and ballads written during this time, most famously “The Wearing of the Green.”


“You start to see different traditions building up around colors — the Protestant tradition is orange, the nationalist tradition associated with the Catholics is green,” McMahon adds.


The origins of the wearing of green clothing in the U.S. on St. Patrick’s Day and for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in general date back to the 19th century, when waves of Irish immigrants came to America looking for better job opportunities, especially after the Great Famine of the 1840s-50s, and began wearing green and carrying Irish flags along with American flags as a point of pride for their home country.



Originally Published in Time Magazine
Author: Olivia B. Waxman

The History of the Shamrock

The History of the Shamrock

Full of symbolism, this plant has mystical roots
by Michelle Gervais

Shamrocks have been symbolic of many things over the years. According to legend, the shamrock was a sacred plant to the Druids of Ireland because its leaves formed a triad, and three was a mystical number in the Celtic religion, as in many others. St. Patrick used the shamrock in the 5th century to illustrate the doctrine of the Holy Trinity as he introduced Christianity to Ireland.
“Wearin’ o’ the green”

The shamrock became symbolic in other ways as time went on. In the 19th century it became a symbol of rebellion, and anyone wearing it risked death by hanging. It was this period that spawned the phrase “the wearin’ o’ the green”. Today, the shamrock is the most recognized symbol of the Irish, especially on St. Patrick’s Day, when all over the world, everyone is Irish for a day!

The original Irish shamrock (traditionally spelled seamróg, which means “summer plant”) is said by many authorities to be none other than white clover (Trifolium repens), a common lawn weed originally native to Ireland. It is a vigorous, rhizomatous, stem-rooting perennial with trifoliate leaves. Occasionally, a fourth leaflet will appear, making a “four-leaf clover,” said to bring good luck to the person who discovers it.
Grow your own shamrock

If you’d like to grow your own shamrock, you have a couple of options. You let the widely recognized white clover invade your lawn, or you can grow the Americanized version, Oxalis tetraphylla, the lucky clover. This is the plant you will usually find in gift shops in March.

Oxalis tetraphylla is a tender perennial in most parts of this country, hardy only in USDA Hardiness Zones 8 to 9. For this reason it is usually grown as a house plant, with a winter dormancy period. It needs bright light to thrive, as well as moist, well drained soil. When the plant begins to go dormant for the winter, keep the soil barely moist, and resume regular watering in the spring when the plant puts out new growth.



Read more: http://www.finegardening.com/history-shamrock#ixzz4bane9cm5

Myths and legends about St. Patrick’s Day

Myths and legends about St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is that one day of the year when everybody is Irish.. .or at least pretends to be. But what does that actually entail? When it comes to St. Patrick’s Day history, the US has all kinds of traditions that, frankly, aren’t even Irish. Who was Saint Patrick anyway? And what myths and legends about this Irish holiday have we all been blindly thinking are true for years? This list of St. Patrick’s Day facts will separate myth from reality and let you in on how this green (or maybe blue?!) holiday is really celebrated in Ireland.

You might be surprised to know that if you were an actual Irish person living in Ireland even a few decades ago, it would involve not shenanigans and drinking green beer, but solemn prayer and abstaining from alcohol. And you certainly wouldn’t be going to a parade, picking four-leaf clovers or hanging out with leprechauns. And the namesake of the holiday, Ireland’s patron saint… wasn’t actually Irish (or even British!).

Shocked? Surprised? Jonesing for a Guinness? It’s okay, you just need to get the facts straight about what’s real and what’s pop culture myth when it comes to this leprechaun-laden holiday. Upvote the most interesting St. Patrick’s Day trivia below!
1. St. Patrick Was Not Born in Ireland

THE MYTH: St. Patrick was Irish.

THE REALITY: Though one of Ireland’s great icons, Patrick himself wasn’t Irish. In fact, we know little of Patrick’s life except from two letters that are generally attributed to him. What we do know is that he was born somewhere in the British Isles (where exactly depends on which account you read) circa 390 and didn’t come to the Emerald Isle until he was 16. That’s when he was kidnapped and enslaved by Irish pirates.

He was brought to Ireland and held as a slave for six years, with traditional accounts saying he was a shepherd in County Antrim. He eventually escaped after claiming to have heard a heavenly voice and fled to England, where he continued the religious awakening that began during his escape.

2. Christianity Was Already Thriving in Ireland

THE MYTH: St. Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland.

THE REALITY: In 431, Pope Celestine is said to have sent a bishop named Palladius “to the Irish believing in Christ.” Patrick didn’t come back to Ireland until a year later, in 432. This would indicate that there was already an active Christian community there. In fact, Palladius actually fits into some theories about Patrick’s life – namely, that the modern version of St. Patrick is an amalgam of the two men. There were numerous other clerics active in Ireland at the time, and many Irish churches are dedicated to some of these bishops.

3. Ireland Never Had Snakes to Drive Out

THE MYTH: St. Patrick drove out the snakes from Ireland.

THE REALITY: In all probability, Ireland probably never had snakes to begin with. Before the last Ice Age, Ireland was simply too cold for snakes to survive, then when the glaciers receded, it left the land an island, impossible for snakes to reach. Fossil records from the country corroborate this, as no evidence of snakes has ever been found among the animals living there.

The legend that Patrick stood on an Irish hillside and delivered a thundering sermon that drove the island’s serpents into the sea is probably just an allegory for his eradication of pagan ideology – with snakes standing in for the serpents of Druid mythology.

4. The Shamrock May or May Not Be Apocryphal

THE MYTH: St. Patrick used the three-leaf clover to explain the Holy Trinity to Irish pagans.

THE REALITY: The parable of the three-leaf clover standing in for the Father, Son and Holy Ghost is one of the things that’s pretty hard to prove either way. What we do know is that clovers were already important in paganism, with their green color representing rebirth. Three was also an important number in paganism, and in ancient religions in general, with a number of “triple deities” represented in everything from Hindu mysticism to Sumerian gods. So if Patrick did use the clover to explain the Trinity, he already had some of the heavy lifting done for him.

5. St. Patrick’s Day Was a Dry Holiday in Ireland

THE MYTH: Irish people get hammered on St. Patrick’s Day.

THE REALITY: Ireland has a robust pub culture, and they gave the world the miracle of Guinness. But that doesn’t mean they all get blotto on St. Patrick’s Day. In fact, for most of the 20th century, pubs were legally closed on March 17th, since it was considered a religious holiday, meant as a solemn day of national piety (not to mention it falls right in the middle of Lent.)

Those laws were finally taken off the books in the late ’60s, but even then, the Irish didn’t drink green beer. That pleasure was reserved for their American cousins.

6. St. Patrick Wasn’t Even English

THE MYTH: St. Patrick was British.

THE REALITY: Technically, he was a Roman citizen, as the British Isles were under Roman rule at that point. His father and grandfather were active in Roman Christianity, but Patrick didn’t truly become a believer until after his escape. Some scholars believe his family was Roman aristocracy, and possibly even hailed from Italy, but nobody knows for sure. Even his name is in dispute, as later documents, from after Patrick’s time, list his birth name as “Maewyn Succat.” His two letters are signed by “Patricius,” and he probably adopted the name Patrick from the Latin for “well born.”

7. Leprechauns Have Nothing to Do with St. Patrick’s Day

THE MYTH: Leprechauns are inexorably linked with St. Patrick’s Day

THE REALITY: While the little green, red-bearded troublemakers are an important part of Irish folklore in general, they have literally nothing to do with the historical St. Patrick’s Day. Leprechauns didn’t appear in Irish literature until the Middle Ages, well after Patrick’s return to Ireland. While you’ll probably see drawings of leprechauns during your St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans, it’s not because of their link to the holiday, it’s just because they make a handy representation of “something Irish” – mostly due to pop culture depictions.

8. Green Wasn’t Always the Traditional St. Patrick’s Day Color

THE MYTH: Green is the color associated with St. Patrick’s Day.

THE REALITY: It is now, but it wasn’t always. Ireland itself might live up to the idea of being an Emerald Isle, but the use of green to celebrate Sr. Patrick’s Day is a recent invention, probably from the 18th century, when supporters of Irish independence from England used the color to represent their cause. Knights in the Order of St. Patrick actually wore a color known as St. Patrick’s blue – a deep and rich blue (Pantone 295, to be exact) that served as the background for the Kingdom of Ireland’s coat of arms.

9. Irish People Don’t Really Eat Much Corned Beef

THE MYTH: Corned beef and cabbage are the traditional St. Patrick’s Day feast.

THE REALITY: In America, sure. But debates rage as to whether or not this is actually a traditional Irish meal. Proponents say it is, based on the curing of ham to use on long ocean voyages. Others say it’s a more American twist on traditional Irish cuisine.

The truth is somewhere in the middle. The Irish, like pretty much everyone else, would salt-cure meat – but cows were expensive and needed for producing milk, so they’d rarely be slaughtered for food. Irish corned beef was extremely popular in England in the first half of the 1800s, but it was far too expensive for rural Irish tenant farmers to eat.

However, Irish immigrants in New York City’s Lower East Side couldn’t get the pork they were used to eating, as it was much more expensive in the US. So they bought corned beef from their Jewish neighbors because it was cheaper. The corned beef found in pubs and on dinner tables in America is much closer to traditional deli corned beef than what was for sale in Ireland 200 years ago.

10. It’s Not That Big of a Deal in Ireland

THE MYTH: Ireland pulls out all the stops to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

THE REALITY: They don’t, at least not the way Americans do. Until the 1700s, St. Patrick’s Day was simply one of many Roman Catholic feasts, and was only observed in Ireland. There was no raucous drinking of green beer, or kissing anyone because they were Irish. Like all feasts, it was spent somberly praying at home or in church.

But when large numbers of Irish immigrants came to America, they pushed back against nativist anti-Irish sentiment by organizing parades and other displays of pride centered around March 17th. The first was in Boston in 1737, with New York following suit. Ireland itself never had a St. Patrick’s Day parade until the 1930s. With anti-Irish bigotry having subsided, the holiday is now simply seen as a celebration of Irish culture, cuisine, and history.

11. The Shamrock and the Four-Leaf Clover Are Different

THE MYTH: The shamrock is the symbol of St. Patrick’s Day, but for extra luck, you really want a four-leaf clover – which is also Irish.

THE REALITY: Four-leaf clovers are prized for their rarity, and as such, are thought to bring great luck. But the difference between the shamrock and the four-leaf clover is more than just a leaf – one is a symbol of national pride, and the other… isn’t.

The four-leaf clover isn’t intrinsically Irish in any way, being a universal symbol for good fortune – and one that can be found everywhere. In fact, the clover with the most leaves in history (56, to be exact) was found in Moroka, Japan in 2009.

12. Chicago Can’t Dye the River Blue

THE MYTH: Chicago dyes the Chicago River green for St. Patrick’s Day, so why don’t they dye it blue the rest of year?

THE REALITY: The Windy City does dye the Chicago River green on St. Patrick’s Day, which they started doing in 1962. But as for dyeing it blue the rest of the year… bodies of water are the color they are because of the light that gets filtered through the water, not because of what’s in them. Fill a glass of water from the Chicago River, and it’ll be neither green nor blue, but clear. Also, please don’t drink it.

13. You Probably Don’t Want to Kiss the Blarney Stone

THE MYTH: You kiss the Blarney Stone on St. Patrick’s Day to get the gift of gab.

THE REALITY: The Blarney Stone is another one of those intrinsically “Irish” things that people use as shorthand for Irish culture. But it has nothing to do with St. Patrick, as Blarney Castle wasn’t built until 1446, a thousand years after the time of St. Patrick. As an aside, both native Irish people and hygiene experts agree that actually kissing the Blarney Stone is incredibly unsanitary and quite overrated as a tourist destination.

St. Patrick’s Day Facts

St. Patrick’s Day Facts

When did the first St. Patrick’s Day parade take place? And just how much corned beef and cabbage is consumed in the U.S. each year? Find out how many Americans trace their lineage to Ireland and more fun facts about St. Patrick’s Day food and traditions.

When is St. Patrick’s Day?

St. Patrick’s Day takes place each year on March 17, the traditional religious feast day of Saint Patrick.

Did You Know?

There are 34.7 million U.S. residents with Irish ancestry. This number is more than seven times the population of Ireland itself.
St. Patrick’s Day Celebration

Corned beef and cabbage is a traditional St. Patrick’s Day dish. In 2009, roughly 26.1 billion pounds of beef and 2.3 billion pounds of cabbage were produced in the United States.

Irish soda bread gets its name and distinctive character from the use of baking soda rather than yeast as a leavening agent.
Lime green chrysanthemums are often requested for St. Patrick’s Day parades and celebrations.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in the United States on March 17, 1762, when Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City.

More than 100 St. Patrick’s Day parades are held across the United States. New York City and Boston are home to the largest celebrations.
At the annual New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade, participants march up 5th Avenue from 44th Street to 86th Street. Each year, between 150,000 and 250,000 marchers take part in the parade, which does not allow automobiles or floats.

Places to Spend St. Patrick’s Day

There are seven places in the United States named after the shamrock, the floral emblem of Ireland including Mount Gay-Shamrock, WV; Shamrock, TX; Shamrock Lakes, IN; and Shamrock, OK.

Sixteen U.S. places share the name of Ireland’s capital, Dublin. With 44,541 residents, Dublin, CA, is the largest of the nice, followed by Dublin, OH, with 39,310.

Other towns with the luck of the Irish include Emerald Isle, North Carolina and Irishtown, Illinois.

Facts about Irish Americans

There are 34.7 million U.S. residents with Irish ancestry. This number is more than seven times the population of Ireland itself.
Irish is the nation’s second most frequently reported ancestry, ranking behind German.

Across the country, 11 percent of residents lay claim to Irish ancestry. That number more than doubles to 23 percent in the state of Massachusetts.
Irish is the most common ancestry in 54 U.S. counties, of which 44 are in the Northeast. Middlesex County in Massachusetts tops the list with 348,978 Irish Americans, followed by Norfolk County, MA, which has 203,285.

Irish ranks among the top five ancestries in every state except Hawaii and New Mexico. It is the leading ancestry group in Delaware, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

There are approximately 144,588 current U.S. residents who were born in Ireland.




The History Show

History of St. Patrick’s Day

History of St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated annually on March 17, the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over 1,000 years. On St. Patrick’s Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink and feast–on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.


Saint Patrick, who lived during the fifth century, is the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland. Born in Roman Britain, he was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave at the age of 16. He later escaped, but returned to Ireland and was credited with bringing Christianity to its people. In the centuries following Patrick’s death (believed to have been on March 17, 461), the mythology surrounding his life became ever more ingrained in the Irish culture: Perhaps the most well known legend is that he explained the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) using the three leaves of a native Irish clover, the shamrock.

Since around the ninth or 10th century, people in Ireland have been observing the Roman Catholic feast day of St. Patrick on March 17. Interestingly, however, the first parade held to honor St. Patrick’s Day took place not in Ireland but in the United States. On March 17, 1762, Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City. Along with their music, the parade helped the soldiers reconnect with their Irish roots, as well as with fellow Irishmen serving in the English army.


Over the next 35 years, Irish patriotism among American immigrants flourished, prompting the rise of so-called “Irish Aid” societies like the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick and the Hibernian Society. Each group would hold annual parades featuring bagpipes (which actually first became popular in the Scottish and British armies) and drums.

In 1848, several New York Irish Aid societies decided to unite their parades to form one official New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Today, that parade is the world ‘s oldest civilian parade and the largest in the United States, with over 150,000 participants. Each year, nearly 3 million people line the 1.5-mile parade route to watch the procession, which takes more than five hours. Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Savannah also celebrate the day with parades involving between 10,000 and 20,000 participants each.


Up until the mid-19th century, most Irish immigrants in America were members of the Protestant middle class. When the Great Potato Famine hit Ireland in 1845, close to 1 million poor and uneducated Irish Catholics began pouring into America to escape starvation. Despised for their alien religious beliefs and unfamiliar accents by the American Protestant majority, the immigrants had trouble finding even menial jobs. When Irish Americans in the country’s cities took to the streets on St. Patrick’s Day to celebrate their heritage, newspapers portrayed them in cartoons as drunk, violent monkeys.

The American Irish soon began to realize, however, that their large and growing numbers endowed them with a political power that had yet to be exploited. They started to organize, and their voting block, known as the “green machine,” became an important swing vote for political hopefuls. Suddenly, annual St. Patrick’s Day parades became a show of strength for Irish Americans, as well as a must-attend event for a slew of political candidates. In 1948, President Harry S. Truman attended New York City ‘s St. Patrick’s Day parade, a proud moment for the many Irish Americans whose ancestors had to fight stereotypes and racial prejudice to find acceptance in the New World.


As Irish immigrants spread out over the United States, other cities developed their own traditions. One of these is Chicago’s annual dyeing of the Chicago River green. The practice started in 1962, when city pollution-control workers used dyes to trace illegal sewage discharges and realized that the green dye might provide a unique way to celebrate the holiday. That year, they released 100 pounds of green vegetable dye into the river–enough to keep it green for a week! Today, in order to minimize environmental damage, only 40 pounds of dye are used, and the river turns green for only several hours.

Although Chicago historians claim their city’s idea for a river of green was original, some natives of Savannah, Georgia (whose St. Patrick’s Day parade, the oldest in the nation, dates back to 1813) believe the idea originated in their town. They point out that, in 1961, a hotel restaurant manager named Tom Woolley convinced city officials to dye Savannah’s river green. The experiment didn’t exactly work as planned, and the water only took on a slight greenish hue. Savannah never attempted to dye its river again, but Woolley maintains (though others refute the claim) that he personally suggested the idea to Chicago’s Mayor Richard J. Daley.


Today, people of all backgrounds celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, especially throughout the United States, Canada and Australia. Although North America is home to the largest productions, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in many other locations far from Ireland, including Japan, Singapore and Russia.

In modern-day Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day was traditionally been a religious occasion. In fact, up until the 1970s, Irish laws mandated that pubs be closed on March 17. Beginning in 1995, however, the Irish government began a national campaign to use interest in St. Patrick’s Day to drive tourism and showcase Ireland and Irish culture to the rest of the world. Today, approximately 1 million people annually take part in Ireland ‘s St. Patrick’s Festival in Dublin, a multi-day celebration featuring parades, concerts, outdoor theater productions and fireworks shows.


The History Show

Who Was St. Patrick?

Who Was St. Patrick?

St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is one of Christianity’s most widely known figures. But for all of his prevalence in culture, namely the holiday held on the day of his death that bears his name, his life remains somewhat of a mystery. Many of the stories traditionally associated with St. Patrick, including the famous account of his banishing all the snakes from Ireland, are false, the products of hundreds of years of exaggerated storytelling.

St. Patrick: Taken Prisoner By Irish Raiders

It is known that St. Patrick was born in Britain to wealthy parents near the end of the fourth century. He is believed to have died on March 17, around 460 A.D. Although his father was a Christian deacon, it has been suggested that he probably took on the role because of tax incentives and there is no evidence that Patrick came from a particularly religious family. At the age of 16, Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family’s estate. They transported him to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity. (There is some dispute over where this captivity took place. Although many believe he was taken to live in Mount Slemish in County Antrim, it is more likely that he was held in County Mayo near Killala.) During this time, he worked as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. Lonely and afraid, he turned to his religion for solace, becoming a devout Christian. (It is also believed that Patrick first began to dream of converting the Irish people to Christianity during his captivity.)

St. Patrick: Guided By Visions

After more than six years as a prisoner, Patrick escaped. According to his writing, a voice—which he believed to be God’s—spoke to him in a dream, telling him it was time to leave Ireland.

To do so, Patrick walked nearly 200 miles from County Mayo, where it is believed he was held, to the Irish coast. After escaping to Britain, Patrick reported that he experienced a second revelation—an angel in a dream tells him to return to Ireland as a missionary. Soon after, Patrick began religious training, a course of study that lasted more than 15 years. After his ordination as a priest, he was sent to Ireland with a dual mission: to minister to Christians already living in Ireland and to begin to convert the Irish. (Interestingly, this mission contradicts the widely held notion that Patrick introduced Christianity to Ireland.)

St. Patrick: Bonfires and Crosses

Familiar with the Irish language and culture, Patrick chose to incorporate traditional ritual into his lessons of Christianity instead of attempting to eradicate native Irish beliefs. For instance, he used bonfires to celebrate Easter since the Irish were used to honoring their gods with fire. He also superimposed a sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross, so that veneration of the symbol would seem more natural to the Irish. Although there were a small number of Christians on the island when Patrick arrived, most Irish practiced a nature-based pagan religion. The Irish culture centered around a rich tradition of oral legend and myth. When this is considered, it is no surprise that the story of Patrick’s life became exaggerated over the centuries—spinning exciting tales to remember history has always been a part of the Irish way of life.


The History Show


Astronomy Picture of the Day – Phases of Venus

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2017 March 17

Phases of Venus
Image Credit & Copyright: Daniel Herron


Explanation: Just as the Moon goes through phases, Venus’ visible sunlit hemisphere waxes and wanes. This composite of telescopic images illustrates the steady changes for the inner planet, seen in the west as the evening star, as Venus grows larger but narrows to a thin crescent from December 20, 2016 through March 10. Gliding along its interior orbit between Earth and Sun, Venus grows larger during that period because it is approaching planet Earth. Its crescent narrows, though, as Venus swings closer to our line-of-sight to the Sun. Closest to the Earth-Sun line but passing about 8 degrees north of the Sun on March 25, Venus will reach a (non-judgmental) inferior conjunction. Soon after, Venus will shine clearly above the eastern horizon in predawn skies as planet Earth’s morning star.

Your EarthSky News for March 17th: Weekend moon near Antares and Saturn

Weekend moon near Antares and Saturn


Bottom line: The moon is waning, appearing later each night. It’s in a pretty inconspicuous place in our sky. But if you start watching this weekend, you can learn to identify Saturn and the star Antares and so appreciate them in the months to come!




Originally published on EarthSky