Memories and healthy recipes for your dinner table.

Saint Patrick’s Day

Illustration by: Richard Svensson
Illustration by: Richard Svensson

I have been referred to as the “Kool Aide Mom” once or twice because our home is the place to be if you want to have fun. There is always something going on here. We love celebrating holidays official and corny made up ones. That is why we put just as much effort into Saint Patty’s Day as we do any other holiday. I started a tradition years ago when the cousins still lived nearby. That year I made a hat out of paper, filled it with spritz cookies and left it on their doorstep. Down the walkway I placed little Leprechaun footprints running every which way leading into a bush. I also dropped a half eaten apple for extra fun. The little kids went nuts. They searched the yard trying to find the little Leprechaun.

A little Irish History

Maewyn Succat was born to a Roman Official sometime around 385 AD near Wales. He was later taken prisoner (at the age of 16) by Irish sea-faring raiders and sold into slavery in Ireland. Maewyn was not a religious boy before his time spent in Ireland where he turned to God in prayer in search of solace. He wrote that he believed his misfortune was due to his apostate attitude toward God. He remained captive for six years as a slave tending the sheep and pigs before  he had a vision from God telling him he would soon return home. Maewyn escaped by ship to Gaul where he dedicated his life to serving God. He changed his name to Saint Patrick while attending the Seminary in France.  St. Patrick believed that his calling was to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity. Eleven years later he would return to Ireland to fulfill that calling . He was revered by those whom he converted yet despised by those who favored the Celtic pagan ways and saw him as a threat. He spent 30 years  building monasteries and schools working to establish Christianity in Ireland. Saint Patrick died March 17th 461 AD.

There are many old Irish legends that describe the miracles Saint Patrick performed but they are just that, old legends.  St. Patrick’s Day was first celebrated in America in 1737. The Saint Patrick feast day remains a religious holiday in Ireland while here in the states it is a festive occasion celebrated by wearing something green and other symbols we have come to associate with St. Patrick’s Day. The use of the shamrock was believed to have originated with Saint Patrick. As legend states he used the shamrock to explain the holy trinity being the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The shamrock thus became a symbol of Christianity in Ireland. To the Celtic people of ancient Ireland, the shamrock represented the rebirth of spring. (Ireland is referred to as “The Emerald Isle” due to the lush green landscape.) Historically, the color green was used by revolutionary groups in Ireland. By the 17th century, when the English began to suppress the Irish, the shamrock became a symbol of hope and Irish nationalism. Thus it was only fitting for the color green to become part of the official Irish flag in 1919.

The Leprechaun with his pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is a mythical creature. The Leprechaun stems from the Irish pagan belief in fairies. It is said that the Leprechaun is a crafty workman who guards the pot of fairy gold. The Leprechaun, the rainbow, the pot of gold and the clover are symbols celebrated on St. Patrick’s Day here in the United States to make St. Patrick’s Day a fun family affair.

Other ways to celebrate Saint Patty’s day may include:

  • Cook up a pot of Stew and a loaf of Brown Bread or Corned Beef and Cabbage.
  • Fry up Green Eggs and Ham.
  • Cook up a batch of rainbow colored pancakes.
  • Serve a bowl of pineapple jello (Pot of coins).
  • Leave gold coins in the kid’s shoes.
  • Go on a picnic to enjoy nature.
  • Perform a family service project.
  • Attend a St. Patrick’s Day parade.
  • Play Rainbow Bowling. Fill water bottles with different colored water.
  • Go on a scavenger hunt in search of a pot of gold (chocolate) coins using paper shamrocks for clues.
  • Set up a Leprechaun maze stringing different colored string throughout the house with a prize at the end.
  • Make green cupcakes or cookies with green frosting.
  • Tie green balloons to the car.
  • Dye the milk green.