Article by Janeen Lewis
This year, while many St. Patrick’s Day parades and festivities are canceled or downsized, families can celebrate at home. Try these simple ways to experience Irish food, crafts and culture.
Share the significance
People across the globe celebrate the Feast of St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland on March 17th, the date of St. Patrick’s death. St. Patrick was believed to be born in the late 4th Century in Britain. When he was 16, he was captured by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland as a slave. Six years later he escaped, and reunited with his family in Britain. When he became a cleric, St. Patrick returned to Ireland. He is credited with successfully spreading Christianity in Ireland, where he started monasteries, churches and schools.
St. Patrick’s Day revelers usually participate in the “wearing of the green,” dressing in shirts, dresses, and plaid kilts in shades of green. Families don’t have to limit green to clothing. For fun, dye all liquids green — think milk and the toilet bowl water. Make your kids lime Kool-Aid or gelatin. Use face paint to decorate faces with shamrocks. Wear green beads and emerald costume jewelry from the dollar store.
Create clever crafts
For younger children, easy shamrock hats and headbands are easy to make, as well as rainbow-colored jewelry made with pipe cleaners and cereal or beads. For older children, mosaic shamrocks or tissue paper shamrock sun catchers are creative. Follow a “How to Draw” tutorial on YouTube and learn to sketch a rainbow shamrock, leprechaun or Celtic cross. Paint Mason jars green and decorate with an Irish theme. Light them up by putting battery-operated fairy lights or tea lights in the jars. Make a clover crown with tissue paper or felt shamrocks.
Another easy idea is to supply kids with materials and see what they create! Material ideas: green paper, pipe cleaners, beads, gold and green glitter, glue, green and white foam cutouts, markers and paint, paper plates, felt squares of all the colors of the rainbow, and marshmallows.
Compose lucky limericks
A limerick is a funny, five-line, one stanza poem. This nonsense form was made popular by English poet Edward Lear in the mid-1800s, but Limericks were probably named for the city and county of Limerick in Ireland. Let your kids try their hand at writing limericks. Visit www.poetry4kids.com to learn more about this poetry form. The website includes a free printable worksheet with the limerick rules and an example at the top, and lines for kids to write their own limericks at the bottom.
Find the pot of gold
Plan a scavenger hunt with clues written on construction paper shamrocks. If someone in the family is talented at writing limericks, let them make up the clues. Scatter the clues around the house on a trail that leads to a black pot filled with gold candy coins. Split the candy among all the kids in the family so everyone gets a share of the loot.
Even though most St. Patrick’s Day celebrations have been canceled or downsized, there are still ways to soak up Irish music, dance and culture remotely. Families can visit Dublin, Ireland virtually from March 12-17th through St. Patrick’s Festival TV, a channel that will allow people to tune in to Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day Festival. Visit www.stpatricksfestival.ie. to view traditional Irish art, music, and storytelling. Or visit IB4UD at www.Irelandbeforeyoudie.com and view “10 Virtual Tours of Ireland’s Most Famous Landmarks.” See 360 degree views of cliffs, castles, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, and emerald gardens and forests.
Check out lit up landmarks
Since 2010, landmarks around the world light up on March 17th for a “Global Greening” initiative. Famous monuments and buildings light up green on St. Patrick’s day, including Sydney’s Opera House in Australia, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland Paris, the Las Vegas Welcome Sign, the Great Wall of China, the Empire State Building in New York City, the Coliseum in Rome, Italy and hundreds more.
Cook up some Irish eats
St. Patrick’s Day wouldn’t be complete without trying traditional Irish cuisine. Allrecipes.com has several Irish recipes. Whip up some corned beef and cabbage, bake a shepherd’s pie, try your hand at soda bread or slow cook Irish stew made with lamb chops or beef. If you can’t make a feast, why not delight the family with a dessert like white iced shamrock cookies? Or go decadent with Dublin Drop Cake, Irish tea cake or Irish cream ice cream. Parents can top it all off with some Irish coffee.
St. Patrick’s Day may look different than it did a couple of years ago, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be festive and fun, even if it’s celebrated at home.