Everything’s coming up clover with the March holiday right around the corner.
How did we come to celebrate this holiday by wearing green and making corned beef and cabbage? The Feast of Saint Patrick actually dates back several centuries, but it’s hard to tell the legend from the truth with some of the details surrounding the famous Irish celebration.
Whether you like your history well done or rare, the spirited holiday has become a national pastime with some cities like Chicago going as far as dying the river green in honor of the festivities. You don’t have to go that far, but gather up your art supplies and see if your kids (and you, of course) can tell fact from fiction while making some celebratory holiday crafts.
- For edible Rainbow Necklaces, string Fruit Loops together using twine or embroidery thread.
True or False: St. Patty’s Day is celebrated in Japan.
Answer: True. As of 1992, it became a thing to do in parts of Japan, starting with Tokyo. There are parades throughout the month of March to celebrate Irish heritage. It’s also commemorated in Russia, Argentina, Malaysia, and South Korea1.
- Make a Leprechaun Hat out of a little green construction paper and some elbow grease. Here’s a link to easy instructions: http://www.classic-play.com/craft-leprechaun-hats/.
True or False: Saint Patrick was a real person in the 5th Century.
Answer: True. The legend tells of a born-to-wealth Romano-Britain man who, at the age of 16, was said to have been kidnapped by Irish raiders, and pressed into servitude for six years when he found God. He then spent his life converting Irish pagans. That is, according to his own biography, anyway. The holiday emerged in the late 1700s according to historians, when devotees would go to mass and have a big communal meal. Around this same time, donning green became a sign of Irish nationalism.1
- Little squares of green tissue paper, some plain paper, glue, and a pencil are all the tools you need to make some Fuzzy Shamrock Art. Draw and cut out a shamrock shape, then wrap the tissue around the head of the pencil, dip it in the glue and stick it to the paper, removing the pencil. Repeat until the whole shape is covered and you’ve got a fuzzy shamrock.
True or False: The shamrock is not native to Ireland.
Answer: False. There are a few three-leafed varieties of clover native to Ireland, and it is the reason it became the symbol of the Irish people; St. Patrick used it to describe the Holy Trinity as “three-in-one.” It then became a general symbol of good luck that many cultures have adopted.
- Shamrock Rubbing. Look around for some clover in your own backyard, gather up a small clump, and spread them on a sheet of wax paper flat. Place a piece of rice paper over your shamrocks and stick to the table with tape. Then the kids can run their crayons over the paper to make pretty patterns they can hang on a window when they are done.
True or False: St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland.
Answer: False. Were there ever snakes in Ireland? Not according to National Geographic. It’s too cold, so that must have been a metaphor.
Well, it all may be the stuff legends are made of, but no matter what you believe, St. Patrick’s Day is a fantastic opportunity to explore the fascinating facts of Irish history and make some festive decorations. Kids get a big kick out of this tradition so put on some green and crank up the Chieftains for a cheerful and memorable Saint Patrick’s Day ahead.