Thursday, March 15, 2012

Have a Shamrockin' St. Patty's Day!

One thing I love about being American, is that we will find any reason to celebrate darn near anything for any reason. Take Groundhog's Day for example.  Really? I'm still trying to figure that one out! Unfortunately, many of us don't know why we celebrate what we celebrate, but we're not about to be party poopers, so hey, why not join the crowd?

I have learned through the journey of homeschooling how important it is to teach kids to take time to think about life and all it's dimensions. I mean really think - contemplate would be a more appropriate term.  And, in contemplating, begin to discover, understand, and eventually give reason for what we believe, what we do, what we say and why.

Many of the holidays we as Americans celebrate have become so commercialized, that I think we've forgotten to ask ourselves where the celebrations began in the first place, and why it's important to recognize and celebrate their origins.  St. Patrick's day is a prime example.

Now, I am not Irish, but when we moved to Kansas City, which has an incredible Irish culture, I decided for myself that somewhere in my 100% Czech and German heritage there must have been an Irish influence.  Even if only in the realm of ales and lagers.  
Beer appreciation is programmed in my genetic code.  I can't help it!  This is my St. Patty's Day party hat.  Bottle opener included!
Before moving to the farm, we LOVED attending the Irish Fest and St. Patrick's Day parade every year.  And, without a doubt, in our home, after Christmas and Easter, it's the boys' favorite holiday to celebrate.
Here's how we do it!...
In the classroom, reading a great story about the holiday we celebrate is essential.  We love Joyce Denham and Diana Mayo's Patrick, Saint of Ireland.
Tomie de Paola's illustrations are wonderful in his book, Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland.
Last year we made a collage of various aspects of Irish heritage including a map of Ireland, (which we colored and labeled), the Irish flag (made with the boys' handprint) and a list of Ireland's literary giants (Yeats, Wilde, Joyce and C.S. Lewis) and excerpts of their work.
You can find a brief history of Ireland's flag here, as well as an explanation of the color and pattern.
While the older ones work on their collage, Henry will have fun making this hilarious orange Leprechaun Beard, which I found on Pinterest.  Now, I just have to find a hat!
Then, my little bearded buddy will be ready to go on his "lucky gold hunt", just one of hundreds of ideas I have found on No Time For Flashcards.
My wee-little shamrock-sugar, Charlie, will be donning this sweet number from Shopantsypants on Etsy.  I can't wait to see him in it!
Traditions are often the most memorable when they are marked with celebratory food.  My boys don't exactly come running to the table over corned beef and cabbage, but they love this recipe for Irish Beef and Guinness Stew.  
The stew is wonderful served with a platter of hot Blarney Biscuits which include a good wish for everyone attending the dinner.  You can write traditional Irish messages like, "May the wind be always at your back," or you can personalize them.  For example, "May all of your friends be as kind as you are."
Save the best for last - DESSERT!!  These Shamrock Shakes from Catholic Cuisine are perfect!  We didn't quite follow the recipe, instead threw in oreos, peppermint extract, vanilla ice cream, a dash of green food coloring and milk, then topped it off with whipped cream, green sprinkles and chopped up peppermint patties.  YUM!!
I like to dress up our buffet for various holidays.  Using some old scrapbook paper, ribbon and card stock, I made this banner with free printable letters from Martha Stewart .  The "Oh so lucky to have you." quote from Pinterest was printed on card stock and placed in an old frame.  Simple!



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