Culture Children's Friendly Activities on St. Patricks Day

Published on March 16th, 2013 | by Charu Suri

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Not Just For Grown Ups: Kid Friendly Activities For St. Patty’s Day

Pints of Guinness, pubs and painting the town green all sound very appealing to adults who celebrate St. Patrick’s Day or the Feast of Saint Patrick. In Ireland, Lá Fhéile Pádraig is both cultural and religious, and observed on March 17th. Saint Patrick is recognized as the most popular patron saint of Ireland, and with his arrival, Christianity followed suit.

As all Irish love to celebrate with food and festivals, expect to find plenty of shamrock-clad people dancing on floats or singing songs. One of the Irish myths is that St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Christian doctrine of the Trinity to the Irish people (most shamrocks feature three leaves; the odd four-leaf clovers are considered especially lucky).

Montreal’s St. Patty’s Day Parade is especially well known in North America, whose city flag also includes a shamrock on the right hand quadrant. In Chicago, the River is dyed green each year to commemorate the occasion, and other important landmarks including New York City’s Empire State Building, Egypt’s Pyramids of Giza, and Italy’s Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Niagara Falls Going Green on St. Patty's Day

Niagara Falls goes green on St. Patrick’s Day; photo courtesy of IrishAmerica

Children's Friendly Activities on St. Patricks Day

Cookies are always a good idea; photo credit: Treat 4 Tatas

But what about the kids? With the focus on drinking and dancing, St. Patrick’s Day (as with all cultural feast days) is an ideal way to immerse your kids into the spirit, without having them accompany you to the local pub. Here are ways you can teach them the spirit of going green:

Get a “Green” Breakfast: Whether you’re at home, or traveling, chances are your local hotel or restaurant will have something green for your child to get into the cultural spirit. This can include whipping up some steel-cut oats with a hint of green fruit (think apples, grapes) or starting the day off with a green smoothie.

Go On a Scavenger Hunt: ScavengerHuntApp, an app for your iPhone, allows you create items that you can hide (such as chocolate four leaf clovers or gold coins) and when kids find the item, you can tweet about it on your phone, or cross it off the list. Another app, Munzee, takes geocaching a notch further, where items found in the real world are captured on your smartphone (you can scan items as you travel). So, if you’re in Italy, for instance, ask your kids to spot the Leaning Tower of Pisa that’s gone green (hard to miss), or something smaller like a green vespa.

Read Myths and Folklore: Very often, kids don’t really get the history of culture, unless you take the time to explain it to them. Read them popular stories of Irish culture (ironically, Leprechauns rarely make an appearance in a traditional Irish folktale) and give them authentic stories, not Hallmark ones. One good book to buy is Traditional Irish Fairy Tales ($9.94) on Barnes and Noble, which tells you stories including “The Enchanted Cave of Cesh Corran,” “Becuma of the White Skin,” “Mongan’s Frenzy,” and more.

Take them to a Crafts Store: You can channel the kids’ inner leprechauns by decorating pretty much anything, from fashioning four leaf clovers out of felt, to making chocolate covered coins and that pot of gold. If you don’t feel like fashioning anything at home, go to your local crafts store and make some cool pottery and paint it green. One place we love in New York City is Our Name is Mud.

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