Ancient Roots, Modern Holidays for Kids - Saint Patrick's Day
For Kids: Saint Patrick was a real person. Around 400 AD, he was kidnapped from his wealthy parent's home and sold into slavery. He ended up in what would become present day Ireland. It took him six years to escape. Once he did, according to the many legends about this fascinating man, he did wonderful things - some true, some myth. One thing he really did do was create the Celtic cross. He put the symbol of a sun on a regular cross and turned into the Celtic cross, still used in Ireland today. He supposedly died around 460 AD on March 17th. That's why Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated each year on March 17th.
Most of the stories about Saint Patrick are myths. They are not true. Saint Patrick did not chase the snakes out of Ireland. People were not even sure if he was a saint. The thing is, people didn't really care if the tales were true or not. He was a saint by popular opinion. In Ireland, they love Saint Patrick and they love Saint Patrick's Day. Many people and even cities around the world have joined the Irish in celebrating Saint Patrick.
Saint Patrick's Day is a great deal of fun with traditional Irish dancers and loud parades, and wearing of the green, and eating corned beef and cabbage. The city of Chicago even dyes their river green to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day.
Wearing of the Green: Wearing green on Saint Patrick Day started from an old myth about leprechauns, the magical little people who live in Ireland, who make their homes underground in tree roots, making shoes and hiding gold. Leprechauns come out during the day in the sun to work on their shoes and watch over their magical buckets. According to Irish myth, leprechauns are very mischievous. They like to pinch people and then disappear. It is said if you catch a leprechaun, he'll grant you a wish. People are forever searching for leprechauns, for their pot of gold, and for their wish granting ability. When hunting for a leprechaun, you need to wear green, because green makes you invisible to a leprechaun. Good to know.
The Shamrock: Irish myth promised if you could find a three leaf clover, you could make a wish. You would not always get your wish, but you had a chance. That myth later was changed to a four leaf green shamrock, and along with it, your luck was much improved.
The Irish are full of delightfully spooky myths and tales about all kind of weird and magical creatures. Click here to read some of them.
First, read this myth. The Leprechaun or Fairy Shoe Maker, an ancient tale from Ireland.
Say: A leprechaun is a fairy like creature in Irish myth who spends his time making shoes, and hiding gold. They are very tricky and very mischievous, but if you catch a leprechaun, which is not an easy thing to do, he will grant you a wish. Leprechauns keep their homes in the ground, hidden away in tree roots. During the day, they come out to make their shoes and play tricks on people. Saint Patrick's Day is the most frustrating day of the year for a leprechaun. Everyone is wearing green. To a leprechaun, wearing green makes you invisible. They get a bit careless sometimes, while looking around for someone to pinch. So if you're hunting for a leprechaun, your best chance is on Saint Patrick's Day, when instead of he finding you, you find him! Today, we're going to make our wishes and post them somewhere handy, so when Saint Patrick's Day arrives, we'll be ready.
Teacher Prep: You can create a tree root spreading in lots of directions, with a rainbow over the tree ending in a pot of gold. Have your kids write their wish on either shamrocks, or if you wish a more colorful wall, on a oddly shaped piece of brightly colored paper, and post all wishes on the roots of your tree. Do this a day or two before Saint Patrick's Day.