I want to give my readers a heads-up: Wear green on Friday, March 17, so you won’t get pinched. St. Patrick’s Day rolls in among beautiful flowers, green clover and birds singing beautiful songs all day long.
I love the way Opelika celebrates spring with the Azalea and Dogwood Trail. This is a wonderful driving field trip for our families.
St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated each year on March 17. In Ireland, the Irish honor St. Patrick with both a holy day and a national holiday. The Irish cherish their beautiful green countryside and remind themselves of its beauty by wearing green. Although it began in Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in countries around the world with parades and other festive traditions.
Key symbols that stimulate a lot of early childhood fun and curiosity are rainbows, four-leaf clovers, shamrocks and leprechauns.
Leprechauns are fictional, small-bodied, little fellows, which if spotted — according to Irish lore — are said to bring good luck.
In St. Patrick’s Day tradition, Patrick used the shamrock’s three leaves to explain the Holy Trinity: The Father, God; the Son, Jesus; and the Holy Spirit.
Young children love rainbows. I can remember as a teacher, my son would stay with me after school as I graded papers. He would play right outside of my classroom as I would work on my tasks. One afternoon, I looked out of my classroom window and did not see my son anywhere.
We had had a light rain and the sun was shining brightly. One of my fellow teachers rushed into my room as we both went searching for Gus.
As we looked up at the playground and baseball field, we saw the most beautiful arching rainbow that seemed to almost touch the ground. My son was running into the rainbow, jumping up and down, trying to catch it. My fellow teacher and I joined my son in trying to catch the rainbow as we ran into a prism of beautiful colors. My son and I had many adventures chasing rainbows in fields by Mobile Bay and by the ocean in Gulf Shores as he was growing up.
The scientific definition of a rainbow is “a curved arc of light of many colors across the sky.” Rainbows are caused by the sun’s rays shining through water droplets during or after rain.
An experiment I have done in the early childhood classroom is to simply take a clear glass, fill it to the top with water and put it in the windowsill. Then, I would place a white sheet of paper on the floor in front of the window with the sun shining through. A rainbow will reflect on the paper, depending on how bright the sun is that day.
Another fun family activity is to use a water hose to make rainbows. The sun must be shining with your back facing the sun. Have your young child hold the hose where you can make a fine mist, then find the rainbow.
You can also take a bowl of water and pour different food colorings into the bowl — along with a drop of dishwashing soap — to create a rainbow that appears in the middle of the water.
Rainbows are symbols of hope. We see this in the Bible, represented by the story of Noah and the ark. After 40 days and 40 nights of flooding, Noah and his family step out of the ark to be met by a rainbow of promise that there will be no more floods. On St. Patrick’s Day, we see a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow on greeting cards, bulletin boards and crafts.
I love the song “I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover” written by Mort Dixon in 1927 with music by Harry M. Woods. I know each of you can recall the desire to frantically find the rare gem of a four-leaf clover. We can remember as children sitting in the middle of a bed of clovers to find that special one with four leaves — then making a wish upon it. I allow my young students to take out magnifying glasses and nature bags if they cannot find that one special four-leaf clover. Children enjoy making beautiful nature jewelry from white clover flowers.
Another way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day is to prepare green (lime) “Jello Jigglers.” You can also celebrate the holiday by enjoying other green foods. Eat a bowl of lime sherbet, or spread some mint ice cream between sugar cookies to make mini St. Patrick’s Day ice cream sandwiches. Adults also love having a slice of key lime pie to celebrate the holiday. Other little treats include green lollipops, green jellybeans and green chewing gum.
We are also blessed with young children giving us hope like a rainbow.
Have a good St. Patrick’s Day. I hope you find your four-leaf clover.