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Behind the Holidays…. By Mae Catherine Godhigh

Mae Catherine Godhigh pic 1Behind every song is a story. Behind every holiday is myth or truth or perhaps a little bit of both. Traditionally Americans love to celebrate holidays, including this writer. Holidays are celebratory and fun or are they? During the course of my research, I came across some information worth having a conversation about.

St. Patrick’s Day – St. Patrick’s Day and Memorial Day is a crucial flash point for people of melanin. The back stories affords us the opportunity to learn something different about holidays and their origins. Have you ever heard about the Twa people? If your answer is no; let’s take a peep at their buried genocide.

The Twa were a pygmy or small race of people tribe from Africa. The Twa journeyed to Northern Ireland very early in its conception prior to the influence of the Catholic Church. The Twa people had a cultural, technological and philosophical impact on a people there known as the Druids.

One of the cultural influences the Druids got from the Twa was the fact that they wore a fez or head cover that depicted the African symbol known as Uraeus. This is the same snake image you see worn by the Kings and Queens in ancient Kemet Egypt.

St. Patrick was born Maewyn Succat in Scotland around 375 AD. His name was changed to Patrick after he entered the priesthood. His parents were Calpurnis and Conchessa. Also, they were Romans living in Britain while in charge of the colonies.

Later in life, the Church gave St. Patrick the authority to convert or remove the Twa and Druid influence. Eventually countless numbers of Twa and Druids would be massacred in Ireland.

So when you hear the song about St. Patrick removing the snakes from Northern Ireland, it’s really referring to the Uraeus head garment worn by the Druids and the Twa. The leprechaun myth comes from the short Black men that died in the genocide.

Memorial Day – Decoration Day

On May 1, in 1865, at 9:00 am, former Black slaves started Memorial Day in America. This occurred in Charleston, SC to honor 257 dead Union Soldiers who had been buried in a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp. They dug up the bodies and worked for 2 weeks to give them a proper burial as gratitude for fighting for their freedom. Together with teachers and missionaries, Black residents of Charleston organized a May Day ceremony that year which was covered by the New York Tribune and other national papers.

The freedmen cleaned up and landscaped the burial ground, building an enclosure and an arch labeled, “Martyrs of the Race Course.” Nearly ten thousand people, mostly freedmen, gathered on May 1 to commemorate the war dead. Involved were about 3,000 Black school children newly enrolled in Freedmen’s schools, mutual aid societies, Union troops, Black ministers, and White northern missionaries. Most brought flowers to be placed on the burial field. Years later, the celebration would come to be called the “First Decoration Day” in the North.

David W. Blight described the day: “This was the first Memorial Day. African-Americans invented Memorial Day in Charleston, South Carolina. What you have there is black Americans recently freed from slavery announcing to the world with their flowers, their feet, and their songs what the war had been about. What they basically were creating was the Independence Day of a Second American Revolution.” Today the race track is still there; an oval roadway in Hampton Park in Charleston, named after Wade Hampton, former Confederate general.

The choice to celebrate holidays or not to celebrate remains exclusively yours. What is important to remember would be the stories and the human sacrifices that placed them on our calendars. With that being said, stay strong, stay conscious, stay informed, stay focused, stay alert and stay beautiful.

Sources Modejeska Monteith Simpkins and the Wikimedia Foundation.