Tag Archives: fairies

187 – Luck O’ The Irish: St. Patrick’s Day Traditions, Myths, and Legends

I don’t know when St. Patrick’s Day turned from a sweet celebration of a wonderful culture into an excuse for binge drinking  (a Guinness holiday instead of a Hallmark one?) , but I think it was at some point in my lifetime. Before it used to be just about wearing green, running in the almost Spring grass looking for four-leaf clovers, eating Lucky Charms, drinking Shamrock Shakes, and of course, watching wonderful family films like Leprechaun.

But seriously, St. Patrick’s Day is flush with weird legends and myths of the patron saint of Ireland. The story of St. Patrick is that he drove the snakes out of Ireland (metaphor for Pagans), Christianized the country, and he used the Shamrock to help explain the Holy Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The Irish culture has plenty of fun superstitions, but luck of the Irish, pinching people on St. Patrick’s Day, and turning their rivers green aren’t any of them. Join us for a conversation on where all our silly St. Patrick’s Day traditions come from and some of the real history of St. Patrick’s Day as well as legends and myths about the Emerald Isle’s patron saint himself.

Our show on March 17th, 2007 at Bikini’s in Austin, TX. Still a, ahem,  personal favorite!

One of the strange stories we talk about in the show is this weird shadow that’s cast by Saint Patrick at this New Jersey church. Sure, it’s just a coincidence… OR IS IT?!

st. patrick's day
From St. Joseph’s Church in Keyport, NJ

It’s a good time as any to bring out one of our favorite Irish songs done by an amazing Irish band. Thin Lizzy wasn’t in love with getting famous through an Irish folk song, but their version of “Whiskey In The Jar” made it a Top 40 hit all over the world. We do an acoustic guitar and violin version of it that you can request at the next Sunspot Acoustic Duo show or See You On The Other Side live event!

As I was goin’ over
The Cork and Kerry Mountains
I saw Captain Farrell
And his money, he was countin’
I first produced my pistol
And then produced my rapier
I said, “Stand and deliver or the devil he may take ya”

Mush-a ring dum-a do dum-a da
Whack for my daddy-o.
Whack for my daddy-o
There’s whiskey in the jar-o

I took all of his money
And it was a pretty penny
I took all of his money,
Yeah, and I brought it home to Molly
She swore that she loved me,
No, never would she leave me
But the devil take that woman,
Yeah, for you know she tricked me easy

Mush-a ring dum-a do dum-a da
Whack for my daddy-o.
Whack for my daddy-o
There’s whiskey in the jar

Being drunk and weary
I went to Molly’s chamber
Takin’ Molly with me
But I never knew the danger
For about six or maybe seven,
Yeah, in walked Captain Farrell
I jumped up, fired my pistols
And I shot him with both barrels

Mush-a ring dum-a do dum-a da
Whack for my daddy-o.
Whack for my daddy-o
There’s whiskey in the jar

Now some men like a fishin’
But some men like the fowlin’
Some men like to hear,
To hear the cannonball roarin’
Me, I like sleepin’,
‘Specially in my Molly’s chamber
But here I am in prison,
Here I am with a ball and chain, yeah

Mush-a ring dum-a do dum-a da
Whack for my daddy-o.
Whack for my daddy-o
There’s whiskey in the jar-o

175 – Elves: More Than Just Santa’s Little Helpers

When most people think about elves in the modern day, they either think about Legolas in The Lord of the Rings or they think about the short little fairy like creatures with Mr. Spock ears that make toys for Santa Claus.

elves
I’m a sexy elf.
elves
I am not a sexy elf.

Now, Santa’s Workshop and the elves that build his toys is a creation of mid-Nineteenth Century magazines, but the history of elves goes a lot deeper than just working overtime at the North Pole.

In this episode, we talk about where Santa’s helpers came from historically, but we also explore the millennia-old legends of elves, how Christian missionaries turned them into Satan’s little helpers (not a typo!) and how these nature spirits might still just be running around Iceland. In fact, in Iceland there’s The Elf School which teaches their history on the island and an Elf Whisperer who will have you over for tea with leaves grown by her little friends!

And here’s an interview Allison got with Magnus from The Elf School!

elves
These Icelandic elves are ready to haunt your dreams

For this week’s song, we took a poem that was written anonymously in 1857 for Harper’s Weekly and put some music to it. There just aren’t enough Christmas songs that talk about Santa’s elves. Since this poem was one of the first documents of St. Nick’s sweatshop, we are excited to be the first ones to immortalize it in song! Here is Sunspot with “The Wonders of Santa Claus”.

Beyond the ocean many a mile,
And many a year ago,
There lived a queer old man
In a wonderful house of snow;
And every little boy and girl,
As Christmas Eves arrive,
No doubt are overjoyed to hear,
The old man’s still alive.

In his house upon a hill,
And almost out of sight,
He keeps his many elves at work,
working with all their might,
To make a million pretty things,
Cakes, sugar-plums, and toys,
To fill the stockings, hung up
By the little girls and boys.

It would be capital for sure,
to glimpse his wondrous shop;
But when he hears a stranger he
Orders the elves to stop;
And the house, and work, and workmen all
just take a little twist,
just when you think they that are there,
They’re off in a frosty mist.

In his house upon a hill,
And almost out of sight,
He keeps his many elves at work,
working with all their might,
To make a million pretty things,
Cakes, sugar-plums, and toys,
To fill the stockings, hung up
By the little girls and boys.

It were an endless task to tell,
The length his list extends,
Of curious gifts the queer old man
Prepares for Christmas friends.
You might be guessing who he is,
And the country whence he came.
Why, he was born in Turkey,
And St. Nicholas is his name.

In his house upon a hill,
And almost out of sight,
He keeps his many elves at work,
working with all their might,
To make a million pretty things,
Cakes, sugar-plums, and toys,
To fill the stockings, hung up
By the little girls and boys.