St. Patrick’s Day often conjures up images of green been and rowdy revelers, but kids also love the annual holiday. On March 17, millions of people will don green and celebrate the Irish with parades and good cheer. To spark your family’s St. Patrick’s Day spirit in 2013, here are some time-tested traditions and fun facts to share with kids to celebrate the luck of the Irish.
St. Patrick’s Day traditions
- Wearing green: Tradition holds that if you don’t wear green on St. Patrick’s Day, a leprechaun will sneak up and pinch you. Green represents Ireland, otherwise known as the Emerald Isle because of the country’s lush, green scenery. Green is also one of the three colors on the flag of Ireland, which was adopted in 1919. Green represents the native people of Ireland. Orange stands for the British supporters of William of Orange, who settled in Northern Ireland in the 17th century. The white in the center of the flag represents peace between these two groups of people. Wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day is a tradition that was popularized by Irish immigrants in the United States. By wearing green, a person becomes invisible to sneaky leprechauns. Today, nearly one-half of all Americans wear green on St. Patty’s Day to show their commitment to Ireland.
- Shamrocks and lucky four-leaf clovers: According to St. Patrick’s Day lore, Patrick used the three leaves of a shamrock to explain the holy trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Today, people use shamrocks to symbolize the annual holiday. The folklore for four-leaf clovers differs from that of the shamrock due to the fact that it has no religious allusions associated with it. It is believed that each leaf of a four-leaf clover represents something different: first is hope, the second is faith, the third is love, and the fourth is happiness. Although clovers are most often found in nature with three leaves, rare four-leaf clovers do exist. Legend says that if you find one, good luck will come your way.
- Leprechauns and pots of gold: According to legend, fairies gave leprechauns golden coins as payment for their hard work. The pint-sized leprechauns stored their coins in large pots – the famous “pots of gold” often associated with St. Patrick’s Day. Follow a leprechaun and you could discover where he’s hidden his treasure.
St. Patrick’s Day fun facts:
- The color traditionally associated with St. Patrick was blue, not green.
- According to the Guinness Book of World records, the highest number of leaves found on a clover is 14.
- Though cabbage has long been an Irish food, corned beef only began to be associated with St. Patrick's Day at the turn of the century. Irish immigrants living on New York City's Lower East Side substituted corned beef for their traditional dish of Irish bacon to save money.
- St. Patrick’s Day is observed on March 17 because that is the feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. It is believed that he died on March 17 in the year 461 AD. St. Patrick’s Day is a national holiday in Ireland, and a provincial holiday in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
- In Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day, people traditionally wear a small bunch of shamrocks on their jackets or caps. Children wear orange, white and green badges, and women and girls wear green ribbons in their hair.
- Many cities have a St. Patrick’s Day parade. Dublin, the capital of Ireland, has a huge St. Patrick’s Day festival that features a parade, family carnivals, treasure hunt, dance, theatre and more. In Chicago, the Chicago River is dyed green with a special dye that only lasts a few hours. There has been a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Boston since 1737. Montreal is home to Canada’s longest running St. Patrick’s Day parade, which began in 1824.
- Some American towns have “Irish” names, including Mount Gay-Shamrock in W.Va., Shamrock Lakes in Ind., Shamrock in Okla. and Texas, and Dublin in Calif. and Ohio.
- 34 million Americans have Irish ancestry. That’s almost nine times the population of Ireland, which has 4.1 million people.
- Every year, green water flows in the fountain on the South Lawn of the White House in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.
For more St. Patrick’s Day fun, head to St-Patrick’s-Day.com to learn more about St. Patrick, find parades and enjoy Irish songs, jokes and limericks.
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