St. Patrick’s Day, coming up on March 17, is not just an Irish holiday.
Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, who lived in the fifth century and brought Christianity to the island. In legends about St. Patrick, he tossed all the snakes out of Ireland, and on March 17th (the day he died), fish leap out of the ocean.
Look for parades and celebrations in Montreal, New York, Chicago, and Boston. Montreal has had a parade for almost two hundred years, New York and Boston celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in the 1700’s. In Chicago, the river is dyed green!
Dublin has a four day St. Patrick’s Festival with music, street performers, fun fair for kids, and a huge parade through the city that ends at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral sits on an ancient site – there’s been a church here since the 5th century, the current cathedral is 13th century. When you visit the cathedral, don’t miss the majestic statue of St. Patrick in the north aisle, and glowing stained glass windows with scenes from the life of St. Patrick. The stone Celtic cross was found under a well, over 1000 years old, where it’s believed St. Patrick baptized people when he visited Dublin.
St. Patrick’s Day is filled with green – green shamrocks, leprechauns, flowers, hats, and pots of gold (might be gold foil covered chocolates). And traveling around Ireland, it really is the Emerald Isle, lush green fields and rolling hills everywhere you go.
Here’s our favorite books to read about St. Patrick’s Day:
- St. Patrick’s Day by Gail Gibbons. History and legends of St. Patrick, why people wear green, all about shamrocks, shillelaghs, harps and other symbols, and how the holiday is celebrated. (Picture book)
- A Fine St. Patrick’s Day by Susan Wojciechowski, Tom Curry. In Tralee, everyone is painting the town bright green to win the prize on St. Patrick’s Day. When a mysterious visitor asks for help, the townspeople generously stop painting to rescue his cows – the next morning, there’s a sparkling green miracle. (Picture book)
- St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning by Eve Bunting, Jan Brett. Jamie is excited when he wakes up on St. Patrick’s Day, but he’s too little to be in the parade. So he takes his flute, and walks through town to the top of Acorn Hill, making his own parade. Beautifully illustrated, feels like you’re in the Irish countryside. (Picture)
- Paper Crafts for St. Patrick’s Day by Randel McGee. Kids can make paper shamrock chains, green leprechaun hat, pot o’ gold rainbow pop-up card, celtic knot necklace, mobile with Irish symbols, and more. (Activity book)