By Kathy Antoniotti
Knight Ridder Newspapers
It is said that if you are lucky enough to be born Irish, you are lucky enough. Maybe that's why people love to claim an Irish heritage on St. Patrick's Day.
In Ireland, the feast day of St. Patrick is a traditional, religious holiday. Families honor St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, by going to church, attending community gatherings and wearing shamrocks.
In America, March 17 is primarily a secular, or nonreligious holiday. We celebrate by wearing green clothing, marching in or watching parades and attending parties.
St. Patrick was born about A.D. 389 in Britain. When he was 16 years old, he was captured by pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland. During the six years he was held captive, he dedicated himself to his religion. When he escaped, he returned to Britain to study religion with the hopes of returning to Ireland to convert the Irish to Christianity.
Over the next 30 years, St. Patrick founded more than 300 churches and converted more than 120,000 people in his adopted country. We know much of his history because of St. Patrick's own writings.
We also know that most of the stories we hear about St. Patrick are based on legend rather than fact. According to one popular tale, people claim St. Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland by charming them into the sea, where they drowned.
It is said he used a shamrock, a small herb with three leaves, to explain to his converts the Catholic Church's concept of the Holy Trinity. Many people believe that is why today the shamrock is the national symbol of Ireland.
In the United States, the first St. Patrick's Day celebration was held in Boston in 1737. Today, more than 100 cities hold annual St. Patrick's Day parades, but the one in New York City is by far the largest.
If you can't march in or attend a parade this St. Patrick's Day, you can still celebrate by wearing a shamrock in his honor. I found directions for it at www.kidsdomain.com and modified them for our use.
Supplies you will need:
- 1 small wooden shamrock or three small wooden heart shapes.
- 1 or 2 green chenille stems.
- Low-temp glue gun.
- Dark green paint.
- Clear sparkle paint.
- Paint brush.
- Pin back.
Paint the shamrock or hearts with green paint. When dry, paint them with a coat of clear sparkle paint and let dry.
If using hearts, glue the edges together to form a shamrock.
Mold the chenille stem around the shamrock, gluing as you go. If using hearts, form a stem for the shamrock with the remaining chenille stem. Trim leftover stem with a scissors.
Glue a bar pin on the back.
© 2003, Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio).
Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.