March 16, 2016

From chin curtain Leprechauns and skinhead Monks to bum beards

By Kim Ball In hommage

So what is it about Saint Patrick’s Day and the Luck of the Irish? And are Irish Eyes always smiling? HOMMAGE takes a look at some of our favourite groomed Irish male body parts and pays homage to a few of the bearded ones.

Starting with….. an infamous fairy in Irish folklore, the Leprechaun (Irish: leipreachán)– usually depicted as a little bearded man. Somewhat mischievous. Why do we celebrate him? Not because the wizened dwarf has starred opposite Jennifer Aniston in his own B-horror film ‘Leprechaun’ or because each trickster leprechaun is said to have his own pot of gold, which can often be found at the end of a rainbow. Rather, it’s because he’s believed to have basked in the million blades of green grass and shamrocks of the Emerald Isle.

Ah. The green rolling hills of the Emerald Isle where we find Irish men with distinguished beards that have inspired pop trends like the “Chin Curtain’ or the “Lincoln”. For some, this beard is referred to as the Donegal — an Irish-style beard that grows along the jaw line and covers the chin. We understand there is even a contest whereby contestants must be clean shaven January 1st and grow a Donegal Beard by Saint Patrick’s Day (March 17th). The winning beard is chosen based on Length, Fullness and Style. Not to be confused with the Chinstrap beard—a similar style of beard that also grows along the jaw line but does not fully cover the chin and could give you the appearance of having a double chin (or enhance that double chin you may already have). In addition, many Chin Curtain beards do not extend that far below the jawline, if at all, whereas all Chinstrap beards generally do.

Probably the easiest way to grow a Chin Curtain is to first grow a full beard with moustache. Then shave off the moustache. Optionally, you may trim down the cheek line to run just above the jaw line, creating a uniform strip of beard running from ear to ear. The Chin Curtain Beard is relatively easy to maintain, just keep the cheeks, moustache and area below the bottom lip clean with a shaver or razor. Use a beard trimmer, with comb, to maintain the stylish point of your curtain. A few green pints for the Chin Curtain this Saint Patrick’s Day!

We also pay homage to the popularly coined term, “bum fluff.” Luck? Or Lucky? Facial hair that is so sparse it can be considered as good as the fluff on one’s bottom. That’s not a beard — that’s bum fluff. This isn’t Irish luck at all, but more of an Irish attitude, a positive look at a bad situation. You may just find a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow.

And how about Irish author Bram Stoker? Despite his most famous character Count Dracula being described in his book as ‘clean shaven save for a long white moustache’, Stoker himself was of the bearded variety.

But, least we not forget the barnet of the Druids who were the first to shave their heads in a circle in tribute to Lugh, the Sun-God. The Druids were priests of an ancient Celtic order, served as both religious and political leaders. The shaving of heads in a circular fashion was later adopted by Irish monks and then found its way into ancient stone engravings of the pagan era, where variations of the circular form is the most common feature.

But, while popular with some, it’s not for everyone. According to Irish tradition, you’ll pay the heavy fine of two cows for shaving a man’s head against his will. Unless, of course, you are “shaving the friar” — an old game, particularly popular in County Meath, Ireland. The game set-up goes something like this:

There’s a pile of ash in the shape of a cone with a piece of wood sticking out of the top. Each player takes turns trying to dig away the largest amount of ash without the pile collapsing. While this is going on, players chant: “Shave the poor Friar to make him a liar; Cut off his beard to make him afeard; If the Friar will fall, my poor back pays for all!”

So, cheers to Saint Patrick’s Day and Irish groomed men everywhere.

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