March 17 is the day generally believed to be the death of St. Patrick, the British-born missionary who is credited with converting Ireland to Christianity.
During the Continental Army’s 1779-1780 winter encampment in Morristown, New Jersey, well known Master Mason General George Washington granted a single holiday to his troops – Saint Patrick’s Day.
So in an effort to give his men a badly needed break, to recognize the heritage of many of his soldiers and to express solidarity with the “brave and generous” people of Ireland, Washington issued general orders on March 16, 1780, proclaiming St. Patrick’s Day a holiday for his troops. It was the first day of rest for the Continental Army in more than a year. “The General directs that all fatigue and working parties cease for to-morrow the SEVENTEENTH instant,” read the orders, “a day held in particular regard by the people of [Ireland].”
The date of St. Patrick’s Day already held special significance for Washington. Four years prior, on March 17, 1776, the British evacuated Boston, and the general had his first major strategic victory since assuming the command of the Continental Army in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in July 1775. Nearly 9,000 Redcoats and more than 1,000 Loyalists boarded 120 ships in Boston Harbor on that St. Patrick’s Day morning, and the enormous flotilla set sail for Halifax, Nova Scotia. Legend has it that Washington selected “Boston” as the password for the first troops to re-enter the town that day, and, in honor of Ireland’s patron saint, “St. Patrick” was the proper response.
But now March 17th becomes even more interesting...
In Egyptian mythology, Osiris was killed on the 17th day of Athyr, the third month of the ancient calendar (which would have been October).
But “St. Paddy’s” has traditionally been a very minor Saint’s day in Ireland. Considering that the day has become America’s defacto Bacchanal (which takes us back to Osiris) it’s worth noting some of the parallels of this day with Solar mythology.
• Osiris was believed to be the source of barley, which was used for brewing beer in Egypt.
• It’s customary to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day and Osiris was known as the “Green Man”
• The root word of Patrick is pater, the Latin word meaning father. Osiris is the father in the Egyptian Trinity.
Finally, one other famous Roman-Greek festival started on March 17th, the festival of Bacchanalia, a celebration to the deity Bacchus or Greek Dionysus to whom wine was sacred. This festival is seen as a re-interpreation of Osirsis, where drinking beer was sacred to the followers of Osiris, the Green Man.
And now? St. Patricks Day via Washington has become America’s defacto Bacchanal, which kind of takes us back to Osiris, The Green Man. March 17th is close enough to the vernal equinox or the first day of Spring! Thus heres to the Green Man, St. Patrick’s Day and a prominent American Freemason bringing the budding season to the fore.
Happy St. Patrick's Day to you all!