From leprechaun traps to wearing green so you don’t get pinched, there are all kinds of playful and silly ways the world chooses to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. If you’re looking for ways to honor the saint himself for his work in Ireland and beyond, though, a leprechaun isn’t quite the answer. Here are some simple, joyful ways you can incorporate the love that St. Patrick had for our Lord and for his fellow kinsmen to celebrate this St. Patrick’s Day.
Read St. Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer Together
The St. Patrick’s Breastplate prayer has been passed down through the ages and is traditionally attributed to Saint Patrick, who lived and served the people of Ireland in the 5th century.
The whole prayer is a beautiful and inspiring way to begin the day, reminding us of the Lord who gives us strength and the great cloud of witnesses who have come before us to strengthen and encourage us for whatever we have to face ahead. You may have seen this passage quoted elsewhere on the Internet. It is worth repeating here:
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
If you gather with friends or family around a common meal on St. Patrick’s Day, consider reading some or all of this beautiful prayer together, or listen to the cathedral choir sing the hymn from St. Patrick’s Cathedral Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1982.
Go Shamrock Hunting
St. Patrick used the shamrock to help his Irish friends and neighbors understand the concept of the Trinity. Its three leaves remind us of the unity between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. While shamrocks and clovers are different from each other, they both feature this three-leaf growth (shamrocks always have three leaves, while clover can occasionally sprout that fourth leaf).
The shamrock and the three-leaf clover are just one way God has revealed qualities of his character in nature. Challenge your children to find three-leaf clovers in your yard and to look for other evidence of God’s grand design in your own backyard or local park for St. Patrick’s Day.
Have a St. Patrick’s Day Feast
St. Patrick’s Day is a traditional feast day, intended to celebrate the Good News of Jesus Christ and his faithful servant, St. Patrick. So go on then, break the Lenten fast, and celebrate the goodness of our Lord! From corned beef and cabbage to shepherd’s pie and beyond, here are some traditional Irish meals and treats that you might consider preparing for this feast day.
Share God’s Love with Others
Even though it was dangerous to the point of death for St. Patrick to return to Ireland and preach the message of salvation through Christ Jesus, he did it out of love for his countrymen and love for his savior. To honor his memory, celebrate St. Patrick’s feast day with others! Invite friends or neighbors to join you for your St. Patrick’s Day feast, prepare a dessert, or write a note of encouragement to show those in your life the love of God.
Read St. Patrick’s Spiritual Autobiography
One of the best ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day is to familiarize yourself with his story. St. Patrick wrote two works, the Confessio, which is his spiritual autobiography, and Epistola, a denunciation of British mistreatment of Irish Christians (faithandworship.com). Originally written by St. Patrick in Latin, you can read his Confessio, translated into English. It truly is remarkable that these writings have been preserved all of these years!
There are also several wonderful children’s books that can help younger folks become familiar with the ministry and great works of St. Patrick, including Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie dePaola and Saint Patrick the Forgiver: The History and Legends of Ireland’s Bishop by Ned Bustard.
Prepare for This or Future St. Patrick’s Days with Your Children
If you’re looking for a guide for your classroom, homeschool, or Sunday school, the Little Way Chapel has a 37-page guide that includes six full lessons about St. Patrick and the God he served. It’s perfect for ages 4-10 but can be adapted for both older and younger children.
Let’s celebrate the love of our God and remember the tradition of St. Patrick today!
(Thank you to Alissa French Case at @littlewaychapel for inspiring this post! Follow her for more Christian education resources.)