The following is a post from contributing writer Tabitha
We are not Irish. If there is Irish ancestry on either side, it’s far enough back that we haven’t found it yet, and therefore we have no deeply rooted family reason to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. We don’t drink green beer (or any beer) and none of us particularly like corned beef. We don’t go to any of the parades or parties. So, what on earth do we do to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?
Yep, it’s ok if you have a certain soundtrack going through your mind right now. So do I. We celebrate by starting traditions in our home that work for us.
In our little family world we wear green. We talk about what the holiday means historically, sometimes, but what my kids remember is wearing green, and the more mismatched, the better. It’s fun when older siblings help younger kids dress in whatever green combination they can find.
The other tradition we keep up with every year is eating green food for dinner. Sure, we can eat food that is green naturally. Split pea soup, celery, salad, coleslaw, green grapes, cucumbers, green peppers, broccoli, and I know there are many others. My kids have their likes and dislikes, but they do enjoy finding new foods that are green to try for this holiday.
We’ve also had a blast making sure we have some unnaturally green foods at our table as well. The kids just asked me recently if we would have green butter again for green pancakes. We’ve colored the applesauce, milk, vegetable dip, waffles, bread, homemade english muffins, and also had green Jello and green Koolaid (or other such things.) To finish it off, we have had green ice cream or cake.
I know this isn’t an option for everyone, as food coloring can affect people differently, but find what works for you and yours.
Start a tradition of your own! Some years we’ve made shamrock hats, green decorations, and greeting cards. I’ve heard of families having fun with rainbows, leprechauns and pots of gold (chocolate) coins. The possibilities are endless.
When I was working to make St. Patrick’s Day a fun holiday for our family (not just another day in March!) it surprised me how much my small children enjoyed it. My oldest daughter knew the color green before any other colors. The timing was just right, and she really associated the word ‘green’ with the color she saw.
I try to involve everyone, from the oldest to the youngest, in planning menus for our St. Patrick’s Day dinners. As I already said, even the littlest likes picking out their greenest clothing for the day. They help plan, cook, and decorate.
After St. Patrick’s day, if things go right, they are all ready for another holiday and themed activities. I love helping them look at the calendar and showing them what it means. Aside from other planned holidays, they want to have other color days and fun days that involve the alphabet or numbers. This is perfect for my younger learners that don’t have a whole lot to draw them to the calendar.
Keep it fun!
This isn’t a serious holiday for us. There is no stress in planning or executing the perfect day for anyone. We tell stories about the myths and traditions of other countries, and then move right on with our own family fun.
Along the way, we’ve built some wonderful memories. When my oldest kids were very small and still learning colors, months, and holidays, I wasn’t thinking of what they’d remember 10 years down the road.
Now, I still don’t think about making the memories. I am learning that by just keeping up with traditions and time with my family, the memories have been made. My older kids tell the little brothers and sisters about the traditions they remember, and I just smile.