(St.) Maewyn’s day.


You don’t really know a thing about Maewyn Succat, Now do you?

You will wear your green shirt and hat and drink your green (ptui!) beer then eat your corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day, won’t you? You will head off to the parade and you won’t give a thought to our boy Maewyn.

Maewyn is not a saint and never has been. (There is an infant movement to have him canonized, but one never knows, does one?)

Maewyn is not even Irish.

Maewyn was born in what is now England, Scotland or Wales (no one knows) to a Christian deacon and his wife, (when priests actually married) probably around the year 390. According to the traditional narrative, at 16 he was enslaved by Irish pirates (Irish pirates?) who attacked his home. They transported him to Ireland and held him captive there for six years. Maewyn later fled back to England, where he received religious instruction before returning to Ireland to serve as a missionary. He got even with his former captors by installing the Catholic church, and banning all those fun pagan rituals.

No one ever “drove the snakes from Ireland”, not even Maewyn.

Legend has it that “your” Patrick stood on an Irish hillside and delivered a sermon that drove the island’s serpents into the sea. While it’s true that the Emerald Isle is mercifully snake-free, experts say chances are that’s been the case throughout human history. Water has surrounded Ireland since the end of the last glacial period, preventing snakes from visiting. Before that, it was blanketed in ice and too chilly for the cold-blooded creatures. Scholars (and we must believe them) believe the snake story is an allegory for St. Patrick’s eradication of pagan ideology.


In case you have not figured it out yet, David Grima has not, Maewyn was the real name of St. Patrick who is not now, nor ever has been, a saint.

Now put down that corned beef.

According to the Mancave website, that corned beef thing was not the traditional Irish celebration. In Ireland, a type of bacon similar to ham was the customary protein on the holiday table. In the late 19th century, Irish immigrants in New York City’s Lower East Side supposedly substituted corned beef, which they bought from their Jewish neighbors, in order to save money

So there.

We are not even sure about your green hat and that green “kiss me, I’m Irish!” shirt. They should be blue.

The color originally associated with Patrick (and Ireland) was blue. St. Patrick’s blue was a specific shade that represented him and his adopted country for hundreds of years and it’s still used as the color of the Irish Presidential standard.

It’s no mystery where that green thing came from. In the years since Patrick’s (Maewyn’s) death, the color green became associated with the Irish Nationalists in their attempts to separate from Britain and became the default color for the country.

You think it was an Irish tradition to drink like a lord on St. Patrick’s Day then go to the parade where vomiting was encouraged. Wrong again. Put down that Guinness.

Until the 1700s, long before Bob Besaw was born, St. Patrick’s Day was a Roman Catholic feast only observed in Ireland. The faithful spent the relatively somber occasion in quiet prayer at church or at home. Thankfully, that started to change when Irish immigrants living in the United States began organizing parades and other events on March 17 as a show of pride.

Party, dog!

The traditional St. Patty’s Day parade actually started, not in Ireland, but in Boston in 1737, when Irish immigrants marched in protest of their low social status at that time. The parade as we know it today was stolen (like Babe Ruth) by New York City in 1762, when Irish soldiers in the British military and local Irish immigrants marched to celebrate their heritage. This was over 150 years before the first parade in Ireland.

In conclusion, if you really want to celebrate Maewyn, you should put on a blue shirt, drop that green Guinness and head off for church to atone for your disgraceful behavior.

Watch out for those snakes, though.

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