March 17, 1991 is the one holiday I will never forget. I woke up to find my father tied up in a leprechaun trap, with head to toe green skin. Not like Kermit or Wicked Witch green, but a dark, spinach green. And it wouldn’t wash off. We tried soap, rubbing alcohol, abrasive cleaners; nothing washed it off. He was undeniably green because he had touched a leprechaun.You see, the night before that St. Patrick’s Day, he had spent hours constructing an elaborate leprechaun trap with me and my sisters. It involved a large box, lots of booby traps, and it was awesome. So awesome, my green father declared that morning as my mom untied his hands, that we had successfully caught a leprechaun in the middle of the night. Apparently my dad heard something moving in the box when he woke up to use the bathroom. Inside, he claimed he found a little green leprechaun. Except, my father excitedly told us, this leprechaun was so sneaky, when my dad lifted the trap, he pulled a switcheroo and tied my dad up and left him in the box trap instead. And of course, turned him green.
I realize there are many takeaways and unanswered questions from this story (no, he isn’t green anymore; yes, he went out in public all day with the green skin; and no, I STILL don’t know how he did it.) I’m sharing it with you because the holiday I remember most from my childhood isn’t a Christmas or my birthday; it is the St. Patrick’s Day my dad turned green. For a non-present sort of holiday, my parents always found ways to make St. Patrick’s Day especially memorable. All these years later, I find myself doing the same for my kids!
Here’s some fun ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with YOUR family!
- EAT GREEN. Make everything you eat green, either by nature or with a little help from some food coloring. We have green eggs, green milk, cucumbers, green peppers, green koolaid, green pancakes, etc. It’s a fun change and maybe your kids will try a new food simply because it looks green. We even use green plates and cups.
- HISTORY LESSON. Technically, St. Patrick’s Day celebrates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland and has evolved into celebrating the Irish culture overall. Take a moment to talk to your kids about different religions and how people celebrate different things, and in different ways.
- LET THE LEPRECHAUNS VISIT. The leprechauns come to our house every year. They are silly mischievous little buggers who like to flip couch cushions, turn chairs upside down, hang pictures sideways and toilet paper the house. And that’s just the beginning. The kids are always in hysterics finding the silly things they did.
- WEAR GREEN. Apparently if you don’t wear green on St. Patrick’s Day, you’ll get pinched! (Thank you kindergarten for teaching my son that rule.) Don’t risk it – pinches hurt!
- READ A ST. PATRICK’S DAY BOOK. Hands down, my favorite is How to Catch a Leprechaun by Adam Wallace. We read this year round, but it gets heavy rotation starting in March. There’s also The Luckiest St. Patrick’s Day Ever by Teddy Slater and I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Clover by Lucille Colandro.
- IRISH DANCE PARTY. Talk a little bit about the Irish culture. Find a Youtube video of some Irish dancing and have a dance party or dance contest.
- BUILD A LEPRECHAUN TRAP. My kids recently started engineering this on their own. I don’t help much, and it’s amazing to see their little minds work. Last year, they came up with the idea to use different colored crepe paper to create a fake rainbow to lure the leprechauns to the fake treasure. That’s brilliant! Of course the trap doesn’t work, but when they wake up and see the treasure missing, they start thinking of ways to make it better next year.
A few years ago, I asked my dad how he turned green on that St. Patrick’s Day. He looked at me like I was crazy and said “because I touched a leprechaun.”
Does your family celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? What tricks are up your sleeve?