For me, St. Patrick’s Day was always a big deal growing up. I come from an Irish-American family and St. Patrick’s Day always meant a huge family get together at my Grandparents house with lots of family, music and food. As an adult I tried to continue those traditions as best I could. And though family is not as nearby as it once was, I still incorporate new and old traditions into celebrating the holiday of all things Irish with my own children.
But you don’t have to have grown up celebrating St. Patrick’s Day or even be Irish to celebrate this warm and fun culture.
Here are some of the new and old traditions we celebrate in our own home on March 17th.
- Baking Soda Bread – The die-hard traditional soda bread people will tell you if it has raisins or sugar, it’s NOT traditional soda bread (in the old days most Irish families couldn’t afford luxuries like sugar and raisins, but I firmly believe if they could have they would have). While I always skip the raisins, I always add the sugar. And for fun, during St. Patrick’s Day I always add a little bit o’ green food coloring, something the kids LOVE. We also leave a slice out for the Leprechauns on the night before St. Patrick’s Day. It’s become as traditional as leaving milk and cookies out for Santa. Here is the recipe: Mix 3 cups of flour (12 ounces), 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda, and 1/4 cup of sugar. Make a well and add one cup of buttermilk. Gently knead the bread into a ball and put in a pan. Slice a cross across the top and gently pat with butter. Cook in a preheated oven for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.
- Have the Leprechauns Visit – Every St. Patrick’s Day morning we wake up to a mess of green glitter, gold coins, and chairs upside down and other mischievous tricks done by the leprechauns. This is something that I started for my own kids and has grown into a tradition. I have friends who go as far as to leave little green footprints around the house for the kids to follow. If the weather and day permits, you can hide gold coins like you would Easter eggs and have your kids go on a gold hunt. Don’t forget to leave the empty plate where the slice of green soda bread once was!
- Watch A Movie – Two staples in my house is both and old classic and a newer one. Darby O’Gill and the Little People was and still is one of my all time favorite movies. A more recent movie, Leprechauns, is one my kids look forward to watching every year as well. But these are just small taste of the fun Irish themed movies (http://www.andrewnixon.com/movies/spday.htm) out there to enjoy with the family.
- Enjoy the Irish in Books – There are many books and stories out there that are perfect for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day (http://www.amazon.com/Favorite-St-Patricks-day-books/lm/2F8EE2VQT6WFG), but my personal favorite is the ultimate treasury in all tings Irish, A Pot o’ Gold: A Treasury of Irish Stories, Poetry, Folklore, and (of Course) Blarney (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1423117522/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=051748904X&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1N7BDP7D5ASJYC0NFB8D). This book is full of stories, poem, songs, rhymes and even recipes of Ireland. Perfect for celebrating the Irish al month long.
- Get Crafty – I’ always a big believer in easy homemade crafts being a great way to celebrate any holiday (plus they give you tons of perfect and free decorations for around the house). Check out these awesome ideas at the Holiday Zone. http://www.theholidayzone.com/stpat/stcraft.html
- St. Patrick’s Day Festivities Where You Live – Most big cities and many small towns celebrate St. Patrick’s Day one way or another. We live only 10 minutes away from Dublin, CA which has an Irish sister city and is one of the best St. Patrick’s day festivals hand down that lasts all weekend long. Check out your local paper and see what activities are happening where you live.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!