Think of St. Patrick’s Day and you might conjure up images of various festivities—huge parties, shamrocks, people wearing lots of green, and no shortage of drinking. But you don’t have to spend the holiday in a bar or pub. There are many ways to celebrate St. Patrick and Irish heritage that you can do with adults and children. After all, it’s important that all of your loved ones can have as much fun as possible. Here are some fun ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with your family.
Go to a Parade
You might be surprised to learn the tradition of holding parades on St. Patrick’s Day first started in North America. Early records indicate one was held as early as 1601 in the city of St. Augustine (now present-day Florida), as well as a parade in New York City in 1762 held by Irish soldiers who were under the British military. It wasn’t until 1903 that people had a parade in Ireland itself. No matter where they took place, though, parades always brought cheer and an appreciation for Irish heritage to the people that took part in them. Today, St. Patrick’s Day parades are held all over the world, and they make the perfect opportunity to bring the kids along for an exciting time outside watching the impressive procession. Many cities go all-out in their parades with live music, dancers, and big floats.
Learn About Irish History
Like many holidays, the origins of St. Patrick’s Day have become somewhat obscured with the passage of time and the emphasis on merriment. If you want to teach your kids about the meaning and history behind the holiday—and maybe learn a thing or two yourself—you could do several activities that will educate you on Irish culture. There are Irish heritage centers and museums that you could pay a visit to for interesting exhibits. You could also read some Irish literature that speaks of St. Patrick and what he did, as well as the early holiday celebrations. Even if your children are young, there are still plenty of storybooks to choose from that will communicate the themes of St. Patrick’s Day in an entertaining way with plenty of accompanying illustrations.
Make Delectable Food
Food is the great unifier that can bring everyone together, regardless of age. Have all your family members participate in various steps in the preparation process, or on different dishes and desserts that you’re cooking or baking. You can incorporate the history you’ve discovered by making traditional Irish-American and Irish dishes, such as corned beef and cabbage, soda bread, and a warming Irish stew. Don’t stress if you’re not sure what an Irish meal even looks like, as there are plenty of delicious recipes you can easily find online. You could even start the day off strong by cooking an Irish breakfast complete with bacon, eggs, black pudding, and tomatoes (with a side of soda bread and butter, of course). For snacks and desserts, you can make cupcakes and cookies topped with green frosting. The emphasis on green also opens a chance to use pistachio or mint flavors in your sweets. It’ll be lots of fun shaping the desserts into shamrocks or drawing edible designs on them with the frosting.
Have a Scavenger Hunt
If your family is big or there will be quite a few cousins joining the celebration, consider planning a scavenger hunt for the kids. Make a list of clues for them to follow in order to find small treats and prizes hidden around the house and yard. You can give each participant a basket or bag that they can put these in as they go, decorated with St. Patrick’s Day designs. They can also decorate their goodie bags themselves before starting with paper, glue, and markers that you set out beforehand. At the end of the scavenger hunt, present them with their shares of the pot of gold—though you’ll probably want to use candy as the reward instead of real gold.
Plan Some Lighthearted Crafts
Setting up crafts for the kids can allow an outlet for creativity. With just a bit of construction paper, felt, scissors, and glue, the possibilities are endless for what you can make. You might add paint to the mix as well to expand the amusements further. From hats to containers to pretty decorations that are easy to hang up anywhere for the day, the crafts can serve a second purpose after they are completed. Just provide the overall instructions, then sit back and watch as each person puts their own spin on the craft they’re making. The younger ones might enjoy creating their own leprechaun traps the night before St. Patrick’s Day, using baseline directions along with their imaginations to devise methods that will entice the leprechauns in. Be sure to leave some evidence that a leprechaun has visited the next day, such as a couple of coins, since the magical creatures won’t stick around until morning.
Decorate Your Home
Create a jovial atmosphere by decorating your home for St. Patrick’s Day. In addition to the decorations that your family crafts together, you can set out green tablecloths or table runners, themed plates, and napkins in the dining room. On the front door or walls, you can hang up signs wishing those who pass them a happy St. Patrick’s Day or simply display a shamrock design. If you have a mantel, create a display with a few potted plants that will naturally work well with the dominant color of the day, and which you can still use as decorations afterward. For a hint of brightness, especially as the sun sets in the evening, put up green lights shaped like clovers in any areas that look dim or bare—it’ll take your home to the next level.
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