Posted by Dirck on 17 March, 2015
My wife suggested to me last night, as I was filling the pen that will be out for today only, that I might put in orange ink rather than green. “Just to get the whole flag represented,” she said with a smile that suggested she knew just how inflammatory she was being. As I mentioned in the 2010 entry for this day, I’m enough of an avatar of the Irish flag on my own not to need that, and I don’t want to get the saint down my neck for injecting a note of protestantism on his day.
Not, as I think I’ve made clear on many occasions, that I’m one of the faithful. I am, however, inconsistently superstitious, and I’ve recently learned a thing about ol’ Patrick that seriously disinclines me from making any fun of him.
He turns people into werewolves.
Yep. Chases snakes out of Ireland, sermonizes long enough for his walking stick to grow roots, chats up old pagan mythic heros, and makes the occasional monster. The walking stick bit indicates he is very patient with common or garden ignorance, but the last item is suggests that he doesn’t have a lot of that virtue available for hecklers.
The story has a a couple of versions, the more impressive being the cursing of a king who pointedly declined conversion, but the one that rings more true is the one in which the saint is followed by three drunken jerks who alternate between caricatured impersonations of Patrick at his preaching and derisive laughter. After putting up with a little of this nonsense, Paddy turns on his pursuers, says something along the lines of “You like howling so much, let’s make sure you can do a proper job of it,” and there’s three wolves with startled looks on their faces. This version also involves the full moon as an catalyst, while others had a seven year cycle of some sort– either once every seven years, or for seven years at a time.
More impressively, St. Patrick did this (whichever version you prefer) and then walked away without getting savaged by a bunch of wolves. That’s a hard saint.
Be warned, then, to keep your St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans somewhat in line. May your beer be the colour nature intended it to be, and may you come back from the pub the same shape you left.