Today’s holiday is something to be mightily celebrated. Why? Because this is a day of bowing to the juggernauts in both ancient and modern world. Specifically, the female juggernauts who moved mountains to change minds and advance the human society.
Which brings me to Hypatia. She was a Greek writer, philosopher, astrologist, mathematician…you name it…she seemed to have her finger on the page of whatever kind of wisdom required for the time.
In fact, she was the caretaker and curator for the educational institution of Alexandria. This was a goldmine of knowledge, study and information. Hypatia was the matron of this place, where she taught students, and preserved precious archives.
There is a sorrow that cloaks this day. Hypatia was stoned to death around this time in March (estimation March 8-12). She was accused of political meddling by a bunch of zealots. It did not help matters that she was smart, savvy and way beyond her years in terms of insight and vision.
Nevertheless, Hypatia’s presence was overwhelmingly revolutionary. She paved a way for so many students, women and scholars for tons of decades after her passing.
This is a great day to observe the following…
♦Embrace the beauty of a book
♦Recognize teachers and mentors in your life
♦Take a bow to those who have fought for the freedoms we experience today
♦Learn a new skill, consider a new profession, take on a new challenge
♦Dare to challenge the ‘status quo’, upset the apple-cart, and be a shining example of what it means to stand up for your passion.
To be sure, Hypatia was a rebel. She stood for her beliefs, and she never backed down. Regrettably, that resulted in her gruesome demise, but she cut a path for so many of us because of her unflinching will.
In a way, Hypatia was a hero. So today’s holiday in history is a great day to celebrate your bold, brassy women and mentors that have made a difference in your lives.
It’s been said that on March 17th, St. Patrick’s day, everybody is Irish. That’s not too far off the mark. At one point, Irish immigrants outnumbered any other nationality in the US. In fact, the Irish have been so influential in this country, that many Irish customs (and symbols) are embossed upon the American culture.
This Irish holiday is just as impressive with symbolic meaning. Firstly, St. Patrick was a pretty remarkable dude…and he wasn’t Irish either. He was born around Roman Britain, close to Scotland. In a weird twist of fate, St. Patrick was captured by Irish raiders and made a slave in Ireland. Ironic, eh? Yeah…the guy who is an Irish icon was kept a slave there from the time he was 16. After about seven years as a slave, St. Paddy was called by God to serve a higher purpose, and he ran away from his dour life of slavery.
He traveled Europe and got the education he lacked as a slave. Then God called St. Pat again, telling him it was time to do great things. So St. Patrick went back to Ireland to share his passion for Christianity. Talk about dynamic forgiveness! This is a guy captured by the Irish, yet he went back there as a missionary to talk about salvation.
St. Patrick didn’t have an easy time of it though. He made some big social blunders. On one occasion, Patrick lit a bonfire on what was then one of the most sacred Celtic celebrations (Beltane).
No big deal, right? Well, the high Celtic king, Laoghaire saw Pat’s fire and was enraged. Apparently, it’s not good etiquette to light a bonfire before the king lights his own first. Oopsie.
St. Patrick soothed over the hard feelings about the fire, started to make friends, and successfully shared his views about Christianity.
What I find very cool about St. Patrick is that he took a different tact than many missionaries. He wasn’t about crushing and converting the people. He actually meshed the Celtic/pagan beliefs in with the Christian philosophy. So instead of obliterating Irish ancient beliefs, St. Patrick wove together the old and the new – forming a cohesion.
As he respected the old ways while honoring his own faith – I think St. Paddy would approve of this post on St. Patrick’s Day symbols. Why? Because symbols, either ancient or new, reflect an era, a culture, a belief, etc. Check out these St. Patrick’s Day symbols…I think you’ll find they make March 17th a little more rich with meaning.
St. Patrick’s Day Symbols
Shillelagh: Okay, so it’s not the most sophisticated weapon, but certainly effective. Back in Patrick’s day, there was a lot of warring for territory, and family feuds. The fighting Irish devised these clubs called shillelagh’s from oak trees as weapons. Often, a warrior would double fist their clubs, one club in one hand to deliver the damaging blow, and the other club for staving off attacks. So what makes this one of St. Patrick’s Day symbols? Over time and with the evolution of legend, the clubs turned into staffs or walking sticks. They were considered to be a mark of wisdom and great power. Check out any picture of St. Patrick, and you’ll see him with a staff – a mark of his esteemed position in the Irish culture.
Leprechaun: These are the wee ones in Irish lore. They are a group of fairies known as Luchorpan. The whole deal with their association with cobbling shoes points back to their name in Gaelic, which means ‘one shoemaker’. Now, you’ve got to understand that in ancient cultures around the world, just about everything had a governing spirit (fairy, troll, goddess whatever). There is a hierarchy of mythic beings who are in charge of certain functions in life. Leprechaun’s, apparently were the Jimmy Choo of shoes back in the day. The leprechaun is included in this list of St. Patrick Day Symbols as a nod of respect to St. Pat for keeping old traditions intact. Rather than eliminating beliefs in magical beings, St. Patrick allowed the people to acknowledge them side-by-side with the new religion.
Harp: Both a national symbol of Ireland, and St. Patrick, the harp won popularity with the Irish long ago. This instrument was used in festivals, celebrations and just general family gatherings. Its music was said to put evil spirits to sleep, and insure peaceful dreams for children. The harp plays its way into Irish culture because it was custom for great tales and legends to be made into music. These tales were often sung accompanied by the harp. Seeing as how St. Patrick is a living legend, it makes sense a few harp tunes were played in his honor. As a symbol of cultural heritage, St. Patrick and the harp go hand in hand.
Shamrock: This unlikely little plant set St. Patrick on the map. It is THE symbol he is most famous for. Why? Because St. Pat was a clever guy. He used the shamrock as a demonstration tool to explain the triple force behind Christianity (Father, Son, Holy Ghost). Celts were already digging the scene of triple energy (triple gods, and goddesses) when Pat showed up, so a trinity was easy to grasp. St. Patrick used the shamrock to show how each branch of the Christian faith stood on it’s own power, but all the leaves needed each other to live and grow. He used the leaves to explain the individuality of each holy entity, while also explaining their dependence upon each sacred power. Learn more about shamrock symbol meanings here.
In closing, I hope you enjoyed this brief article on St. Patrick’s day symbols and their meanings. To be sure, there are many more icons associated with St. Patrick, as well as Ireland. Don’t let your research stop here! Take some time to find out the symbolic meanings associated with this great time of year and the Irish culture.
If nothing else, you can impress your friends at the pub with your knowledge about Irish symbolic history!
As always, thank you for reading. And I hope your St. Patrick’s day (March 17th) turns out to be a frolicking good time.
There are several neat holidays around the world on this day. Let’s start our journey into symbolic meaning of today’s holiday March 3rd in Scandinavia.
On this day, the Norse celebrated sea deities. Specifically, Aegir Norse god of the Teutonic sea, and his wife, Ran who was also a water-lover.
Aegir (which means ‘ocean’ in Norse) seems to be a pretty laid back dude in Norse mythology. He is considered a kind a gracious host to all who enter his watery domain.
However, Ran (Norse for ‘robber’), is quite the opposite. Legend has it that she would smash ships to bits – ruthlessly waiting until they sunk into the ocean’s abyss. Apparently she got quite a kick out of this destruction.
But maybe Ran wasn’t all bad. Myth states that Ran would also come to sunken sailor’s aid, taking care of them until they could get back on their feet after almost drowning.
In terms of symbolic meaning of today’s holiday March 3rd, we’ve got a lovely do-si-do dance between the concept of creation vs destruction or kind vs cruel.
That’s good to keep in mind on this day, especially since this is the 3rd day of the 3rd month. That kind of energy is all about polarity trying to stabilize and harmonize. How so? Well, consider a triangle. All sides must work together in order to keep its structure. In symbolism, one side of the triangle represents concepts like: Light, Creation, Good. The other side of the triangle represents opposite qualities like: Dark, Destruction, Bad. The horizontal side is the unifying factor. It is the stabilizing energy that meshes dark and light together to bring about balance.
This is good to keep in mind, because this day has a strong triple energy. Being aware of these influences can enhance your balance throughout the day and night. To learn more about triple energy, check out my post on Triple Symbolic Meanings here.
Symbolic Meaning of Today’s Holiday, March 3rd
Visiting The Doll Festival in Japan
Next we travel to Japan, where today’s holiday is called Hinamatsui. This annual holiday on March 3rd is also known as the ‘Doll Festival’. In ancient Japan, women would make paper dolls and rub them all over their bodies. When the doll-scrubbing was done, the women would toss the paper dolls into the river. Apparently, this ritual was symbolically intended to extract evil spirits hiding out in the mind, body and/or spirit. Heck, I might try that myself! Then again, I’ll try anything once!
Later, around the 18th century the paper turned to clay. These clay dolls were so intricate and lovely, that many women could not bring themselves to pitch them in the river. Often, the clay dolls are kept and bequeathed to the first daughter born in the family.
The revised ritual goes a step further. These clay dolls are displayed on altars. Hinamatsui displays consist of fifteen dolls, which includes empress, emperor, guards and attendants of the Imperial Castle. It is tradition for young girls to visit each other’s uchi (house) to gander at these exquisite doll displays.
We could say the symbolic meaning of today’s holiday March 3rd in Japan is meant to honor our leaders. This doesn’t have to be royalty for us…it can be giving credit and recognition to our personal leaders, such as teachers, mentors, parents, etc.
Symbolic Meaning of Today’s Holiday March 3rd
In the Form of a Good Luck Symbol
Okay, you’ve got me…this isn’t really a holiday. But I thought it would be nifty to mix it up a little and include a ‘good luck symbol of the day’ feature every once in awhile.
On this, the 62nd day of the year, the good luck symbol isn’t really a symbol, it is a word. The word is “Bedooh”. It’s a Middle Eastern magical word and in Arab it means: “He has walked well.”
This word is typically engraved on gems, helmets, and weapons. The word Bedooh is also used for seals. These are embossed emblems used to seal (usually with wax) important documents and letters. When the recipient received the envelope and notices the Bedooh seal, he knows the sender has integrity and blessed with good fortune.
Sufi writer, Ahmad Ali al-Buni, mentions the Bedooh. To quote Ahmad, “He who carries the magical word Bedooh inscribed on a ruby mounted in gold is assured constant good fortune.” I say anybody who has a ruby mounted in gold is pretty lucky…just sayin’.
In closing, I hope you found this post on symbolic meaning of today’s holiday March 3rd interesting and inspiring. I think it’s a great practice to investigate myths, symbols and holidays around the world. Why? This world is wicked-diverse. If we only know the signs and symbols in our own corner of the world, we are only getting a fraction of the big pictures. Learning symbolic meanings from other cultures enriches our lives and encourages fullness and wholeness in our understanding of this awesome planet we live upon.
The first holiday we’ll explore for today comes from Rome. On the calends of March (calends meaning the first day of the month), ancient Romans celebrated various goddesses, and womanhood in general. The 1st of March is the day Vesta started lighting up the sacred fire in the Temple of Vesta. This was symbolic of the ‘lighting up’ or the ‘warming up to’ of Spring. With the rekindling of the Vesta fire, this was also a celebration of the Vestal Virgins. These virgins were the pure priestesses who surrounded the goddess Vesta. She was a Roman goddess who stood for womanhood as well as hearth, home and earth.
Also on this day the ancient Romans celebrated the festival of Matronalia, which was associated with Juno, the goddess of generosity, love, femininity, marriage and childbirth. This festival was a celebration of women, especially wives. Husbands and children were expected to give gifts to the women in their lives (whether mothers or wives). Women who had servants were expected to make meals for them, as servants had the day off on Matronalia.
In Wales, today’s holiday is called St. David’s day. This celebration features leeks and daffodils
Today’s Holiday in Wales is St. David’s Day
The symbolic meanings for today’s holiday varies widely depending on nation and culture of the people celebrating. In Wales, today’s holiday is called St. David’s Day. St. David is the patron saint of Wales and he is celebrated today, which was the day of his death in 589 AD.
So what’s the deal with leeks and daffodils? Well, firstly they are assumed to be symbols of St. David, but I think mostly, these two perky plants are a symbol of the first signs that Spring is coming.
Leeks and daffodils have a peculiar legend in today’s holiday for Wales. Today also marks the commemoration of the victory over the English. Local lore has it that St. David advised the Welshmen soldiers to wear leeks and/or daffodils on their hats during battle so they could all recognize their fellow countrymen during battle. See more about symbolic meaning of daffodils here.
Today’s Holiday in Scotland is Whuppity Scoorie
Symbolic Meanings for Today’s Holiday in Scotland
This is one of the more interesting celebrations around the world. Why? Well, it’s a little mysterious because its origins are unknown. Plus the festivities are a little unusual. The name of today’s holiday in Scotland is called ‘Whuppity Scoorie’. From what I gather in my research, it is essentially a kinda of ‘Yahoo!’ to the dying of Winter and a ‘Yeehaw’ to the oncoming Spring (I’m not sure if the Scots say yahoo or yeehaw, but you get my drift). As legend goes, around the 19th century the church bells in the small town of Lanark ceased to ring all winter. But on March 1st the church bells fired up after a long Winter’s spell. The lovely sound of the bells marked the renewal of the earth and the anticipation of Spring coming.
This doesn’t seem so odd, but what happens next has me a little baffled. At the first stoke of the church bells’ chime, all the townspeople congregate at the Lanark church. All the children then run around the church (clockwise) three times while the adults hurl pennies at the racing youngsters. Still…not too weird. Where I got a little stymied was when I learned the children made paper balls with a string attached. The kids would swing the balls over their head while dashing around the church and proceed to bonk their fellow racers on the head. After the three laps of the race was done, the children would grapple and grab all the pennies the adults had thrown during the race. I suppose if the kids weren’t pummeled by pennies or bludgeoned by swinging balls – they could potentially bring in a small fortune.
The origins of this interesting Scottish ritual on March 1st are unknown. However, some historical scholars claim the events on this holiday serve a purpose to scare the bejeebers out of the evil spirits, and cast away the winter doldrums.
At any rate, due to the concern for child welfare, today, Whuppity Scoorie is more of a festival of art and storytelling sponsored by the community center in the town of Lanark.
In conclusion, I hope you enjoyed these thoughts on the symbolic meanings for today’s holiday. Furthermore, I hope these holidays inspire you to create your own celebration every March 1st!
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