Do you have the luck of the Irish? Even if you don’t hail from Ireland, you can claim a bit o’ luck yourself on March 17, otherwise known as St. Patrick’s Day! Nestled in the middle of March, St. Patty’s Day is often overlooked; the holidays of Valentine’s Day and Easter loom larger in most homes. Still, this is a good time to incorporate a bit of fun into your kids’ day as they wait anxiously for spring to finally start after a long winter.
St. Patrick’s Day brings mental images of leprechauns and shamrocks. Since the holiday falls on a Saturday this year, take some extra time to enjoy a leisurely breakfast with the family. If you’re feeling ambitious, you could make green-tinted, shamrock-shaped pancakes for breakfast. Another option is to give the kids Lucky Charms breakfast cereal. You remember it from childhood, right? Pink hearts, yellow stars, green clovers, blue diamonds. I think other colors and shapes were added to this sugary, marshmallowy concoction, so I’m probably dating myself!
Decorate with shamrocks: you can probably find some cute place-mats, garlands and other holiday paraphernalia at your local dollar store. Or, you can make shamrocks yourself: Cut out three green heart shapes out of construction paper or craft foam, and place them all at 90 degrees to one another, with the points in the middle. Add a stem, and you’re done! Also, tell your kids about the legend of St. Patrick and the shamrocks: according to lore, St. Patrick was an Irish missionary who used the three-leafed clover to explain the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity to others in Ireland.
Make green carnations” Buy white carnations from your florist, and place them in a cup or vase of water. Tint the water green with several drops of food coloring, and check the flowers periodically over the course of the next 24 hours. They will gradually begin turning green as the water moves up the stem into the petals. You can make it into a science lesson!
Think green! Have a green themed lunch: serve various green veggies with green-tinted ranch dressing for dipping. Or, try spinach pasta (with green-tinted alfredo sauce, if desired), or green eggs (with or without ham). Serve up lime Jello, pistachio ice cream or key lime pie for dessert. Also, be sure that everyone wears something green. Where I grew up, I remember the local zoo offering free admission to anyone wearing green socks on St. Patrick’s Day. Look through your local newspaper to see if any zoos, museums or the like are making similar offers.
Consider serving up an Irish dinner. My husband loves St. Patrick’s day, because he gets to eat corned beef and cabbage. I actually dislike corned beef, so it’s the one day of the year that I will make it without complaint, in the name of tradition. My kids actually love it, so they’re happy, too. It’s very easy, even if you have a day full of other obligations: place it in your crockpot with a can of beer, and just let it cook on low all day long. You can add the cabbage to the pot or, if your slow-cooker is not big enough, boil it separately on top of the stove. Boiled potatoes go well with this meal.
Remember, your kids will look back on these special times for years and decades to come. St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday that you can celebrate whether or not you are Irish.
Do you observe St. Patrick’s Day with your kids? What are some ways you’ve celebrated?