All Snakes Day: Pagan St. Patrick's Day Celebration
All Snakes Day—A St. Patrick's Day Offshoot
Growing up in the U.S., St. Patrick's Day was a much anticipated annual event for me. When I became Pagan, however, there seemed to be a bit of a dilemma. Most Pagans loathed the holiday because of the legends associated with it.
You see, Patty was credited with chasing all the snakes out of Ireland—except actual snakes, being cold-blooded creatures, never really lived in Ireland. 'Snakes' in this case was a symbol for Pagans. Patty has been hailed for single-handedly wiping Paganism from Ireland and ushering in Christianity.
Some Pagans look at March 17th as a dark day for mourning because of the stories. But some of us look at it a different way—as a day worth celebrating, because Patrick failed! We're still here!
The Truth About St. Patrick
So many Pagans feel anger toward Patrick because of stories about him battling Pagans and driving the Druids from the Emerald Isle, forcing people to convert at swordpoint, and smashing all the Pagan temples. But the fact of the matter is, these are just stories. They are what you call 'fakelore'... they became popular tales—mostly told by Christians hundreds of years after Patrick's death. He was hailed a 'hero', and rumors of his fighting 'the bad guys' flourished over the centuries.
Historians, however, find no evidence of any such bloody Pagan holocaust. Ireland was actually where one of the swiftest and most peaceful mass conversions to Christianity took place. Even at that, it took a couple hundred years to take over. Patrick wasn't the only missionary.
Being angry at a preacher man who lived 1,600 years ago just because his religion took root and spread is wasted energy, in my opinion. Sure, I would have loved to see what the world would have looked like had Paganism not been driven nearly to extinction. For whatever reason, though, our Pagan ancestors felt Christianity was right for them back in Ireland in the fifth century, and they readily embraced it with little resistance. Why blame Patrick?
Patrick and all those like him failed to stomp Paganism completely out, and our religions are now flourishing across the globe—so it does not seem inappropriate at all for me to acknowledge this resilience on March 17th.
Reasons I Celebrate All Snakes Day
St. Patrick's Day was never a day for celebrating St. Patrick for me. It was a fun day for celebrating Irish-American heritage with some corned beef and cabbage, a pint of Guinness and a funny green hat. I don't feel any part of my celebration is about Patrick.
I've always said, holidays are what you make of them. A lot of non-Christians celebrate Christmas or Easter even though they don't believe in Jesus. A lot of non-Mexicans celebrate Cinco de Mayo, even though the majority of people in Mexico don't acknowledge it. Just because some people might make their celebration about honoring St. Patrick doesn't mean I have to do that—it is what I make it out to be.
The Pagan revival, in my opinion, is a stellar reason to celebrate! Patrick and all those like him failed to stomp out Paganism completely. Our religions are now flourishing across the globe, so it does not seem inappropriate at all for me to acknowledge that on March 17th. In fact, I can't think of a better day for it!
If March 17th means nothing to you, or just fills you with too much negativity, by all means, do what's right for you. If, on the other hand, you enjoy celebrating the day for your own reasons, you don't need to rationalize it or make excuses—you do you.
Pagan, Irish & Proud
Make Spiral Snake Decorations
- round piece of paper or paper plate
- markers, crayons or colored pencils
- Take the paper or plate and make a spiral shape on it (see below).
- The snake's 'head' should be on the outer edge of the circle/plate.
- Color and decorate the snake's body.
- Cut out the spiral, and discard the edge beyond the snake's head (the gray part in the illustration below).
- Hang the snake from the ceiling by the tip of it's tail (the innermost point of the spiral).
- These snakes can also be draped over curtain rods, mantels, chairs, and wherever else you might like to put them.
What About You?
What do you do on March 17?
What's a Pagan Celebration Without a Feast?
Try My Recipe: Tips
Fellow omnivores, if you've never made corned beef and cabbage, give it a try! I make a huge pot full every year on March 17th. It's actually pretty easy, but it's also easy to mess up, so be careful!
The first mistake people can make is not getting enough. This meat shrinks—a lot! My rule of thumb is always get twice as big a piece as I would if I were buying some other type of roast. My family has never complained about leftovers; better safe than sorry.
I use packaged corned beef with seasoning packets. I like to get one 'point' piece, because it's nicely marbled and flavorful, and one 'flat' piece, because it slices up nicely. I usually get four pounds of meat.
This dish doesn't take long to prep, but it does take long to sit and simmer in a pot, and even longer if you soak the meat first (highly recommended). Get started with the soaking early in the day so you're ready to put the pot on in time for dinner.
One important thing is to make sure to keep it on a low simmer or it can make the meat tough. When the water begins to evaporate, add some more hot water from the tea kettle or microwave. Make sure the meat stays submerged, or again, it can get tough.
Finally, beware of recipes that tell you to put everything in a pot all at once. The meat will need to cook for a couple of hours, but if you put on your potatoes, cabbage or other veggies on that long they'll be nothing but mush! Follow my advice below to add the veggies in stages.
- 4 pounds corned beef with seasoning packet
- 2 large onions
- 4-5 cloves garlic
- 12 ounces beer
- 1-2 pounds carrots, baby carrots or large chunks of peeled tapered carrots
- 2 - 3 pounds potatoes cut into large chunks, I like yukon gold, white or red
- 1 medium head of green cabbage, quartered
- Remove the beef from the package and drain away the brine. Set aside seasoning packets for now. Soak the meat for a couple of hours in a bowl of cold water in the fridge to get rid of some of the saltiness from the brine. Drain it.
- Slice up two onions in big chunks and peel 4-5 cloves of garlic. Place the onions, garlic, meat and seasoning packet into a very large pot. Pour a bottle of beer over it, and fill the rest with cold water until it's about 2 inches over the meat.
- Put the pot on the stove and bring it to a simmer. Keep simmering it for about 50 minutes per pound (for four pounds, that'll be about 3 hrs. and 20 minutes after it starts simmering.
- About an hour before it is done, add about 1-2 lbs of carrots.
- About 30 minutes before it's done, add about 2-3 lbs. of chopped potatoes.
- About 15 minutes before it's done, place the quartered cabbage, cut-sides down, on top of everything else and cover the pot to steam them.
- When the veggies are all tender, take the pot off the heat. Scoop the ingredients out of the water with a spider strainer or large slotted spoon and heap them onto a tray. Finally, remove the meat and slice it against the grain. Layer the slices in the center of the tray in a nice heap.
- Serve the platter of meat and veggies with some nice bread, such as Irish soda bread or pumpernickel. Put out some Irish cream butter and mustard on the table, too, as they are delicious with the veggies and meat.
Great Entertainment for the Festivities
Leprechauns, banshees, a sharp-witted Irishman and a very young Sean Connery. This is an oldie but a goodie, and a great family film for Pagans who have kids... or if you're just a big kid at heart, like me, and love old movies and the sound of an Irish brogue.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Mackenzie Sage Wright