Over 34 million Americans claim Irish ancestry—nine times the population of Ireland itself. While almost a quarter of those boasting Irish heritage live in Massachusetts, families across the country have embraced this festive spring holiday every year on March 17. Whether your Irish eyes are smiling, or you’re just joining in the festivities of the local St. Patrick’s Day parade, add a touch of green in your family celebrations with these fun family activities ...
Music and dance are among the most popular ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and the season is prime for getting kids up, moving and dancing around.
Fiddles and jigs
Music and dance are among the most popular ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and the season is prime for getting kids up, moving and dancing around. Introduce the family to some contemporary music titles by The Chieftains, Sinead O’Connor, U2 and Enya or enjoy the traditional Irish tunes of “Toora, Loora, Loora” and “Molly Malone” with “The Very Best of The Irish Tenors” CD. Kids will love songs from the CD “Putumayo Kids Presents: Celtic Dreamland.” As for dancing, put a little Irish jig in your day by following these eight steps at www.irelandseye.com/aarticles/culture/music/dance/steps.shtm.
On the screen
While you’re browsing movie selections at the local video store or library, consider Irish-themed films, including “Far and Away” (rated PG-13) featuring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kid-man, or the classic musical “Finian’s Rainbow” (rated G) starring Fred Astaire.Looking for a little history? Visit the History Channel’s Web site to view video clips about the history of St. Patrick’s Day, shamrocks and the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade. (history.com)
Gifts of gab and song
Kiss the virtual Blarney Stone at www.irelandseye.com/blarney, and read about the gift of gab and this traditional Irish story. Or, let kids transform a rock of their own with shamrock stick-ers and a little green paint. Then pass it around the house and let everyone give it a smooch for luck. After dinner, gather ‘round to sing “O Danny Boy”, and enjoy a little Irish coffee - or hot chocolate with a dash of mint extract for your little leprechauns. Add whipped cream, a few green sugar sprinkles and make a toast on this special day.
A little food coloring goes a long way in adding green to the day.
Add green to your home with some shamrocks this St. Patrick’s Day, available seasonally at florists and many grocery store floral departments. The three-leaf clover is the national emblem of Ireland, originally called seamroy by the Celts.Green carnations are fun for kids to create, too. A few days before your St. Patrick’s celebration, purchase white carnations at your local grocery store. Cut the stems on an angle, place in warm water with about 20 drops of green food coloring. Over-night, your white carnations will turn a festive green. Or, let the kids make their own tissue paper carnations. Fold green tissue paper accordion style, twist a pipe cleaner around the center of the folded paper and carefully fan out tissue to create the bloom.
Green eggs and ... corned beef?
Cabbage has long been recognized as Irish food. However, serving corned beef has American roots and originated at the turn of the 20th century when Irish immigrants substituted a less expensive corned beef for traditional Irish bacon. Kids will love their Irish bacon served up with some scrambled eggs . . . and a few drops of blue food coloring will turn your yellow eggs emerald green. For hurried wee folk, a bowl of Lucky Charms cereal will suffice, or make a quick loaf of Irish soda bread with a recipe from allrecipes.com. A little food coloring goes a long way in adding green to the day. Add it to potato soup or an icy cold glass of milk. For dessert, frost your favorite cake with green icing and try a little rainbow sherbet served with a few chocolate gold coins—sure to bring smiles to Irish eyes at your table.
Fun St. Patrick’s Day Facts
from the Census Bureau, 2006
93 million people planned to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day.
9 U.S. cities share the name of Ireland’s capital, Dublin.
8 million St. Patrick’s Day cards were exchanged.
4 places in the U.S. are named Shamrock, in West Virginia, Texas, Indiana and Oklahoma.
This story originally appeared in the March 2010 edition of metroparent magazine.