Family history and heritage is very important to Kai and I. We've told the kids the story of St. Padraig driving the snakes from Ireland. As they get older we'll explain the symbolism here but for now it's a great folktale where the snakes are snakes and not Druids. We also use this time to talk about great Irish Folk-tales. I'll get to that later though. We also discuss who St. Patrick really was. While St. Patrick was not born in Ireland but Britain, his importance to Irish culture is something we enjoying sharing. His very real life was one of struggle had been largely forgotten when he died but then the myth and folklore surrounding him grew and he's now the Patron Saint of Ireland. He is celebrated however because while the Druidic Pagan religion was largely practiced- Christianity didn't involve sending your children to sacrifice so you know "YAY".
(Fun Fact: It wasn't hugely celebrated in the States until after the 1970's). We also discuss how in Ireland it's celebrated differently and used for commerce and tourism rather than national pride, though that's something they'll understand better as they get older. "What's commerce Mommy?" Irish American's celebrate it with more drinking, wearing green and shamrocks, and corned beef and cabbage.
My favorite parts of this holiday aren't geared toward my younger two as much. Kail however is coming near the age for sharing some of my favorite parts. (As Ellie grows I hope to get her into step dancing. I got to learn a little bit as a girl and I loved it).
Historically there was the custom of wearing St. Paddy's badges made of red or green paper and ribbon with the St. Patrick's cross. I'm hoping we can make our own together. I love telling them Irish folktales about "T'YEER-NA-N-OGE." The "Fairy Land". We talk about the Fairy's and how in Celtic folklore they were quickly offended yet easily pleased with an offering of milk and honey. We'll be making little "Fairy doors" with "milk and honey" as a fun activity. Lastly, what we eat is a meal of potatoes and fish. We hope this weekend to make a visit to Kai's Grandmother who is not only very proud of her Irish roots as well but loves sharing this part of her life with younger generations. She has lots of stories of Gnomes and the Fae Folk. I'd say we listen to Celtic music but we listen to that all the time, be it Irish, Welsh, or Scot variety. We also listen to a lot rebel songs and sea chantey's on the regular.
We say an "Irish Blessing"
May the roads rise to meet you,
May the wind be at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rain fall soft upon your fields,
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
I hope as my kids get older I can share with them as my Grandfather shared with me- the struggle of our Irish Ancestors. How they came to this country in droves to escape starvation. The conditions they worked in and how keeping traditions alive helps us stay connected to these important roots.
One last note: In America it is often called "St. Patty's Day": "Patty" is a girl's name. Padraig is just a transliteration of Patrick, which is a transliteration of Patricius. While "Patty" and "Paddy" are both diminutive forms of that name: "Patty" is a woman's name and "Paddy" is man's name. This is why many Irish folk from the Mother-land, find "Patty" offensive. This also why there's a rather huge difference between the "Irish" and the "Irish American."