For those of us with children, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations shift from where to find green beer to where to find the best parades and how to make green shamrock crafts. Never fear, we’ve got some fun treats and activities for St. Patrick’s Day right here! How familiar are you with the origins of St. Patrick’s Day? St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland, is not only the impetus behind the Christian movement in Ireland, but is also known for driving the snakes out of Ireland. Well, figuratively anyway. There are actually no snakes in Ireland, and it is believed there probably never were. However, St. Patrick led the movement to convert the pagans (who often used snakes in their symbols) to Christianity, thereby driving the “snakes” out.
Did you know it’s actually a three-leaf clover that brings good luck? St. Patrick used the three-leaf clover to explain the holy trinity to the pagans, which is how the clover became the flower of Ireland. In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is a religious holiday, a day for praying for missionaries around the world and for spiritual renewal. Since the United States has a large Irish population, it is widely celebrated here, with shamrocks, pots of gold, leprechauns, and all things green.
Why the leprechaun? There is no reason that leprechauns are associated with St. Patrick’s Day, beyond the fact that St. Patrick’s Day is associated with all things Irish. Leprechauns are male fairies in Irish folklore – often an older, tiny man who is particularly mischievous. According to the tales, the leprechauns are very rich and have many treasures, including gold that they hide in secret places. If you catch a leprechaun, they have to take you to their treasure. But, if you take your eyes off of them, they can vanish instantly.
Fun activities include hunts for clovers, scavenger hunts, coloring activities and other printable activities, or attending a local parade. Perhaps the most fun activity of all is to take your kids on a magical leprechaun hunt (in your house) using mystical Leprechaun Munch to catch those sneaky fairies.
Leprechaun Hunt with Leprechaun Munch
To catch a leprechaun with this munch, just spoon out some and wait for a crunch. Since Leprechauns love the color green, it won’t take long, but while you watch and wait, you can snack along! When the kids aren’t watching, replace some of the munch trail with gold coins… the calling card of the leprechaun!
How to make Leprechaun Munch:
Add equal parts of each ingredient.
- Crumbled pretzel sticks
- Green marshmallows from Lucky Charms
- Coconut M&M›s (Only green and white)
- Rice Chex cereal
- Green Sprinkles
Add all ingredients into a plastic bag. Shake well!
Another easy and festive snack to make with your kids to take for school snack:
The Shamrock Snack
Regular pretzels (small – 3 for each shamrock)
Stick pretzels (1 for each shamrock)
Chocolate bar – melted (may need more than one depending on the size.)
1. Make your “shamrocks” by arranging the regular pretzels (3 each shamrock)
2. Place a straight pretzel as a “stem.”
3. Take the melted chocolate and drop a big spoonful in the center, ensuring that the 3 pretzels and the stick pretzel are bonded together.
4. Place an M&M in the center and let it cool – preferably overnight.
Alexa Bigwarfe is the mother of three young children. Her family hails from Ireland, so naturally, St. Patrick’s Day is one of her favorite holidays.