Pity poor Frigidian
On March 17, we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with the wearin’ o’ the green, and on March 19 special altars and devotions mark St. Joseph’s Day. These are special occasions and just about everyone at least takes note of them. That’s why I have for a long time felt sorry for St. Frigidian.
His feast day is March 18, but, wedged like he is between big guys like Patrick and Joseph, nobody gives him even a nod, let alone a celebration. He probably doesn’t mind; he lived a good part of his life as a hermit even though he had regal blood and was made a bishop. But it still bothers me.
He was born in Ireland, the son of King Ultach of Ulster, and was said to have studied in an Irish monastery. After St. Frigidian was ordained a priest, he made a pilgrimage to Italy and took up life as a hermit near the city of Lucca. In 556, Pope John II persuaded him to become bishop of Lucca, but Frigidian still maintained a simple lifestyle.
A hermit’s life doesn’t offer much inspiration for a party, even in south Louisiana, where we will celebrate anything, but his most famous miracle may give us a little something to work with. It involved the Serchio River, which, like some of our waterways, regularly overflowed into the town of Lucca.
According to the legends, when the townspeople begged their saintly bishop to do something about the floods, he walked down to the river bank and began to rake a little path leading away from the town and into nearby fields. After that, as the story goes, the overflow brought fertile silt into the fields but stayed away from the town.
There may be a gleaning there, though it’s evaded me so far.
But, while I have your interest — I do have your interest, don’t I? — there are a couple of other worthy March celebrations that you need to mark on your calendar.
For example, you probably forgot altogether that March 1 has been National Pig Day in the United States since 1972. Two sisters Ellen Stanley, a teacher in Lubbock, Texas, and Mary Lynne Rave of Beaufort, North Carolina, thought we needed a day set aside “to accord the pig its rightful, though generally unrecognized, place as one of man’s most intellectual and domesticated animals.”
There seems to be a difference of opinion over whether we should honor pigs by giving them a break (March 1 is also our national Peanut Butter Lovers Day) or whether we should show our appreciation for pigs by eating barbecued ribs. Personally, I don’t see how there can be a celebration of the pig that doesn’t involve cracklins.
Did you toast March 11 with apple cider? That was Johnny Appleseed Day, when we remember John Chapman, who became a legend promoting apple trees. The popular image is of a man who altruistically spread apple seeds randomly across the country. That’s not quite right. It’s true that he planted orchards and gave them away for other people to tend. But he didn’t have much overhead, since cider mills gave him the seeds for free. They wanted people to grow more apple trees so they could make more cider, and Johnny got a cut when the apples were sold.
My math-minded friends (both of them) usually do something special on Pi Day. It is observed on March 14 (3/14) because, as you member from your high school math, the mathematical constant pi is roughly equal to 3.14. I vaguely remember that Pi has something to .do with circles, but you need to ask someone else if you want to know more.
Some fanatics celebrate Pi Minute on March 14 at 1:59 p.m. Pi stretched to seven decimal places is 3.1415926, making March 14 at 1:59:26 p.m. Pi Second. That’s when you should toot that little roll-out tooter left over from New Year’s Eve.
I’m told that a proper Pi Day celebration should involve pies, which may offer an idea of to what to do for poor St. Frigidian. Wrap ’em all together. Celebrate the day with leftover green beer, cracklins, something Italian from the St. Joseph altar, and a slice of apple pie. Just to give it local flavor and a Frigidian character, throw in a few boiled crawfish pulled from a flooded field.
If you’re on a tight budget, just the cracklins and crawfish will do.
A collection of Jim Bradshaw’s columns, Cajuns and Other Characters, is now available from Pelican Publishing. You can contact him at email@example.com or P.O. Box 1121, Washington LA 70589.