My mother's family is Irish, and Catholic, so it should be no surprise that St. Patrick's Day was celebrated with the wearin' o' the green and greeting cards exchanged. My own nuclear family extended the tradition to include a visit from Seamus the leprechaun, who leaves gold-wrapped chocolate coins for the children to find (except one year when chocolate coins couldn't be found, and he left Sacagawea dollars instead!).
I grew up hearing about St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland and converting pagans to Christianity, using the shamrock to illustrate the Holy Trinity. When I discovered Tomie dePaola's Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland, I had to get a copy for my own home library. I loved sharing the story with my quarter-Irish children; not knowing much of our family history, I could at least offer this part of their heritage.
Several summers ago, I went on a search for more feminine examples of the Divine, and came across the story of Brigid, another patron saint of Ireland. Born a slave, with a pagan father and Christian mother, she went on to become Ireland's first nun and form the first Christian community for women. One of the miracles attributed to Brigid was a never-empty pantry despite the food she gave away to the poor. Her story is interwoven with a pagan goddess of the same name, and her feast day is celebrated at Candlemas--February 1st, also known as the pagan celebration of Imbolc, when the first stirrings of the fertile spring season are seen. Like the goddess of hearth, healing and childbirth, Brigid has become the saint of "dairymaids, cattle, midwives, Irish nuns, and newborn babies." (Catholic Online)
Today, I shall think of both Patrick and Brigid, as I remember my Irish roots and celebrate the wearin' o' the green.
(Image of Saint Brigid window by By Nheyob (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)