St. Patrick’s Day falls in my top five favorite holidays, (which also include Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July), which is weird, since I’m not even Irish. But I’ve always loved it–the wearing o’ the green, corned beef and cabbage, adding an O’ to my last name, everything. It’s just so much fun! And so, we’ve put together a set of traditions for St. Patrick’s Day that the children have come to look forward to on a yearly basis. (Actually, I’ve made such a big deal of it in the past, Turkey was genuinely surprised to find that Moose still had to go to school–he seemed to think it was a national holiday. I had to tell him, “Only if you live in Ireland!”)
We start every St. Patrick’s Day with a bowl of Lucky Charms. I know, not really Irish, but how can you pass up the leprechaun on the box? This year, we also had green applesauce with lunch. Moose has really been interested in colored applesauce this year, since they have it at school occasionally, and I always have plenty of food coloring on hand…
We usually read a story about St. Patrick (fact or fiction) at some point. Since St. Patrick does make an appearance on our church year calendar, it seems appropriate to learn about him, even if the actual details of his life seem to be a bit sketchy. In the past, we’ve just read a short story out of a bigger anthology, but this year, I picked up a book specifically about St. Patrick, both the truth and the legend. It also goes into the ways St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated, as well as some symbols of Ireland.
I also considered getting the Tommie dePaola St. Patrick book, but it seemed a little bit too Catholic for us. Yes, I know the actual Patrick was Catholic. But there was something about the artwork, or the emphasis on his sainthood, or something, that didn’t set quite right with me at this point. Maybe when the children are a little older, though, because it does seem like a good book.
We also do fun things like leprechaun coloring sheets, or shamrock mazes, or word searches, of coloring the Irish flag, or something to that effect. I’m glad that Turkey and Bunny haven’t decided that they’re “too old” for stuff like that yet, and they really seem to enjoy doing it every year.
Of course, we always have a traditional St. Patrick’s Day dinner. And by traditional, I mean a traditional American St. Patrick’s Day dinner–corned beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread, roasted potatoes, Guinness to drink (for the adults), and Guinness cake (for everyone) for dessert. One of these years, maybe I’ll try to make a traditional Irish St. Patrick’s Day meal, (although I’m not entirely sure what that would be!), but we all love the corned beef so much, and this is the only time of year I make it, so maybe not!
It’s that time of year again! We made the trek to St. Charles, MO, to take part in the “Christmas Traditions” festivities. This is something our whole family looks forward to all year long, and probably my second favorite day of any year (with only Easter bringing more joy and excitement). As usual, we started with lunch at Frankie Tocco’s, where we had a St. Louis style pizza. I’m still not sold on that particular creation, but I did have a very delicious piece of tiramisu for dessert.
After lunch, the hunt to track down as many Christmas characters as possible began. This was our best year yet, with our having collected 25/30 cards. We saw four of the remaining characters from a distance, with only one character (the Town Crier) flying completely beneath our radar…I don’t know, he may not have been there at all today. We also heard carolers, and the fife and drum corps, watched the chestnut roasters as work (Turkey and Bunny even tried them, but only Turkey approved), and saw an intricate train display (probably Moose’s favorite part of the whole day!).
We saw the beloved Master of Revels shortly after we arrived. He is my absolute favorite character–his entire job is giving people a hard time. He told Ladybug that she looked like a giraffe with her pointy hat (not entirely untrue), wished children a happy Arbor Day, Valentine’s Day, and Lincoln’s Birthday (but never Merry Christmas), and hassled fellow performer Jack Frost, all while standing on a park bench. He is absolutely hilarious.
This year was the first time Ladybug was really able to participate, and did she ever enjoy it! She collected cards right alongside her older siblings, and she wasn’t at all shy about having her picture taken with the performers. She decided the “purple angel” was her favorite, and she liked Snegurochka (the Snow Maiden), so much that she walked right into her arms for a picture without even asking. That’s OK, though, because Snegurochka really liked Ladybug, too–just like she did last year! I guess they’re old friends, now!
We even managed to get a few pretty good pictures of all four children together, which, as any parent of more than one child knows, is nothing short of a miracle!
After spending a full week week learning about Native Americans, including an awesome field trip, we had a very relaxed three-day school-week, where we learned about Pilgrims, the first Thanksgiving, and the origin of some of our other Thanksgiving traditions.
Most of the books we read we also used last year. Some of those Turkey and Bunny remembered from last time, and looked forward to, and others they’d completely forgotten, so they were like new. And I had one new book to read, too–a good mix, I think!
Monday we learned about the life of a fictional Pilgrim boy in Samuel Eaton’s Day. We also read Thanksgiving: A Harvest Celebration, which is a nice summary of the first Thanksgiving (also from a fictional perspective). We put together a “thankful tree”–it was very interesting to see what things Turkey and Bunny are particularly thankful for. I discovered that Bunny focused more on the people in her life, while Turkey focused more on things.
Tuesday we continued our series about life at the time of the first Thanksgiving with Sarah Morton’s Day. It’s a nice companion to Samuel Eaton’s Day (as well as Tapenum’s Day from last week), and Turkey and Bunny both enjoyed learning about what a day in the life of a Pilgrim child was like, from the clothes that they wore and the chores that they had, to the food they ate and the games they played.
We read our new book on Tuesday as well–An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving by the same author who wrote one of my favorite books from childhood (Little Women)–Louisa May Alcott. This was a charming book about children attempting to prepare a Thanksgiving feast for their parents in the 1800s. We had a fun time identifying the parts of the meal that were the same as ours (Turkey, of course!), and what was different (apple slump, for one). When we were finished, we made the same hand and foot-print turkeys that we made last year. Fun to see how they’ve grown, and fun to see how they assemble them differently every year!
Wednesday we read a somewhat fictionalized account of the first Macy’s Parade–Milly and the Macy’s Parade–and a fun little book called The Night Before Thanksgiving, written in the same style as the classic Night Before Christmas. Turkey and Bunny were especially looking forward to this one, because it’s so silly and humorous, but it also touches on many Thanksgiving traditions, such as football, family gatherings, and leftovers on Friday!
We also began making pretty glittered turkey puppets–the assembly of those had to wait until Thanksgiving Day after the glue had dried, but we made a great mess with the glitter on Wednesday!