Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Wearin' O' the Green

Happy St. Paddy's Day to one and all. I decided I would be showing a tremendous lack of respect to some of my ancestors if I didn't touch on this glorious event today. ;) My maternal grandfather (Glenn Sibbett) is a descendant of Samuel Sibbett who left Ireland in 1803. Samuel fled Ireland rather hastily since a bounty had been placed upon his head by the King of England (George III). Samuel had served as a leader in Robert Emmet's rebellion, yet another attempt by Ireland to dispel English rule. Robert was hanged until nearly dead, then drawn and quartered. Not a pleasant way to leave mortal mode, but the punishment for English treason was quite severe back in the day.

Two of Samuel Sibbett's brothers were caught and sentenced to life in Australia. Upon crossing the great ocean, one brother was murdered by his English captors. The other brother was never heard from again. It is not known if he survived the voyage to Australia.

Samuel escaped to the United States, leaving ahead of his wife and three sons to avoid capture. His family later joined him in America and they lived from that point on in the Cumberland Valley, Pennsylvania where they dwelled in a place called Big Springs among other Scotch-Irish Presbyterians. In this location they were blessed with four more children, including my fourth great-grandfather, Samuel Sibbett Jr., who was born in 1803 in Big Springs, Pennsylvania.

So as you can see, I possess a bit of Irish blood. It blends well with the Scottish heritage I also possess compliments of my maternal grandmother. ;) I suspect I inherited character traits like stubbornness, determination, and perhaps a bit of courage from both. We won't discuss the fiery element I might have also been blessed with. It surfaces rarely, but when it does, 'tis a wonder to behold. =D

'T'would be fittin,' no doubt, to share a bit of fun facts about Ireland upon this important day.
St. Patrick's Day is a traditional feast day. In our family it is a tradition to prepare corned beef with cabbage and potatoes. It is a festive dish my entire family loves. Because we'll all be absent later tonight due to varied activities, I prepared this meal yesterday and we savored it last night. And yes, it was yummy. ;)

St. Patrick's Day is a religious holiday, one that honors St. Patrick, a patron saint of Ireland. It is rumored that he banished all snakes from Ireland, but this is a myth. He did conduct important missionary work upon the Irish Isle, converting numerous souls to
Christianity. Blue, not green was the traditional color associated with St. Patrick. It is believed that green became the color of choice for St. Patrick's Day as it was a tradition to wear a shamrock to celebrate this holiday. Hence the phrase, "The Wearin' O' the Green."

The all-important potato crop in Ireland was traditionally planted on March 17th, and that is why potatoes are part of the traditional fare during St. Patrick's Day feasts.

Leprechauns are yet another fun feature of Irish folklore. This myth was alive and well long before the Celts invaded Ireland. Most believed that these small fairy-like creatures were extremely wealthy and if caught, they would hand over their treasured pots of gold. Leprechauns were known for being mischievous, but relatively harmless, still, it paid to give them grudging respect to avoid future trouble.

When I was about a year old, one of my uncles returned from an LDS mission to Ireland\Scotland. He brought me a leprechaun doll that I have always treasured. It currently resides within the confines of my cedar chest. As I write this, I'm thinking I should pull it out and hang it in a place of honor in my computer room---at least for the day. ;)

As for the traditional Irish colors, here is a brief explanation of what they mean:

We wear green, because it represents Gaelic tradition, and independence. It is also associated with the large population of Catholics who reside in Ireland.

We wear orange in honor of the Protestants. This color is symbolic of William of Orange who defeated the Irish Catholics during the 1600's during the Battle of the Boyne.

As I mentioned earlier, blue is yet another hue of Ireland---it is the traditional color depicting Irish pride.

The Irish flag is composed of three colors: green--for the Catholics of Ireland, orange--for the Protestants, and white to symbolize peace between the two factions.

So on this traditional day of Irish pride, wear a bit of the green, or orange, or blue. Not only will this keep you from being pinched throughout the day, but it will show that you are Irish at heart.

Erin go Braugh! (Ireland Forever!)


Gale Sears said...

What a fascinating family history! Thanks for sharing, and for all the interesting Irish information.
Erin go Braugh!

Valerie said...

I always feel a bit inspired knowing how much you know about your heritage. My Irish ancestors came through Scotland and then to America and I think I need to give them some attention. Thanks for the inspiration!

Jennie said...

Okay, I'm wearing a blue, green, and gold shirt with blue jeans, is that close enough? My older brothers always pinched me anyway no matter what I wore and got away with it because their eyes are green and they were bigger. That might have something to do with my never getting too excited about this pseudo-holiday, but it was fun to read about your ancestors.

Cheri J. Crane said...

Thanks, Gale. ;) Family history is one of my hobbies. I've always loved mysteries, and this is a huge one of those. I've been piecing things together for years. =D It helped that I had a rather vivid dream about one of my ancestors a while back. I didn't even know she existed until this dream. Turns out she's my 5th-great-grandmother. I've been researching her line ever since.

Val, I think you'll find this a fascinating journey. Neat things will surface, I promise. ;)

Jennie, I've heard big brothers are like that. ;) Character-building moments, eh? =D

Michele Ashman Bell said...

What a great blog. Love learning the history and traditions of St. Patrick's Day.