Welcome to my blog post on the origins and symbols of St. Patrick's Day! St. Patrick's Day is a holiday celebrated on March 17th in honor of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. The holiday has been celebrated for over 1,000 years and has become a beloved tradition around the world.
In this post, I explore the history and origins of the holiday, and the symbols that have come to represent St. Patrick's Day. There's also a St. Patrick's Day free writing journal to download complete with writing prompts.
I added some discussion questions for you to ask to help your students reflect on the holiday and its meaning. These questions will give your students food for thought and also equip them to write about St. Patrick's Day in their journal.
So grab a cup of green tea and join us as we delve into the world of St. Patrick's Day.
How did Saint Patrick's Day become an American Holiday?
The way Saint Patrick's Day became a mainstream holiday in America is quite interesting.
Irish Roman-Catholics began honoring Saint Patrick's Roman-Catholic Feast day in the 10th century. This was 5 centuries after Saint Patrick died. It is believed that Saint Patrick died on March 17th. This day happened to be in the middle of the season of Lent.
Lent restrictions were eased for Saint Patrick's Day, allowing these Irish to celebrate by eating, drinking, and dancing. Lamb and ham were traditional meats to dine on for the Feast of St. Patrick's Day.
Discuss the origin of St. Patrick's day in Ireland to equip students to answer their St. Patrick's day prompts in their free writing journal pages.
(The free Saint Patrick's Day Journal can be downloaded at the end of the post. The journal has creative writing prompts to inspire your students for story writing.)
Saint Patrick's Day in America
In the 1700s, the first Saint Patrick's Day parade was held in Boston, Massachusetts. Next, Irish Catholics came to America to escape the Potato Famine, and St. Patrick's Day increased in prominence.
At the time, many in American society mocked and oppressed Irish Roman Catholic immigrants. Irish Roman Catholics were able to stick together and fight back against oppression by celebrating a saint from their religion.
Irish-Americans stopped eating ham or lamb on Saint Patrick's Day. The Irish in America started buying brisket from the Jewish shops in their neighborhoods. This brisket eventually became the meal of corned beef, cabbage and potatoes. Corned Beef, cabbage and potatoes is the meal that is now popular to eat on Saint Patrick's Day.
Discuss the how St. Patrick's Day is celebrated in the United States to help students answer their St. Patrick's day prompts in their free writing journal pages.
Saint Patrick's Day Today
Now, many people celebrate Saint Patrick's Day all over the world. Saint Patrick's Day is the most popular in America, Canada, and Australia. People celebrate Saint Patrick's Day elsewhere around the world, including places in Asia and Russia.
St. Patrick's Day shows how the celebration of oppressed immigrants is now part of mainstream culture. In today's world, everyone is Irish for a day! This serves as an inspirational piece of history for each of us.
Before students engage with their free writing journal pages, have the classroom discuss if and how their families celebrate St. Patrick's Day.
St. Patrick's Day Symbols: The Shamrock
First, the Shamrock is a 3-leaf clover, not the 4-leaf clovers that many Americans believe are lucky. An Irish legend says that Saint Patrick used the Shamrock to discuss the Holy Trinity during his missionary work. Each of Shamrock's 3 leaves represents the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in Christian belief. Today however, both the Shamrock and Four-Leaf Clover are associated with Saint Patrick's day.
Another thing that helped the Shamrock's elevation as a symbol of Ireland is that it grows everywhere in Ireland. Thus, the Shamrock has always been available to everyone, regardless of social status. Irish people who didn't have a lot of money could pick Shamrocks to enjoy because Shamrocks grew everywhere.
The people of Ireland wore shamrocks on their clothing and displayed shamrocks in their homes. This is similar to today's practice, where we may put a rose in a lapel or gift a bouquet of roses. So shamrocks became part of Irish culture, along with leprechauns.
Discuss the origin of the shamrock to help students answer their St. Patrick's day prompts in their free writing journal pages.
Saint Patrick's Day Symbols: The Leprechaun
The Leprechaun has been in Irish folklore for centuries. Leprechauns were originally grouchy old men who were ornery, tiny, and red. Leprechauns were believed to be shoemakers who hoarded their gold and hid it at the end of rainbows.
It's unknown why the red leprechauns turned into the green leprechauns that we know today. One theory is that leprechauns turned themselves from red to green for camouflage. Everything that became associated with Ireland was green.
People still believe that spotting a leprechaun is good luck. Even in modern times, people still believe that if they can catch a leprechaun, they will be rewarded with a pot of his gold.
Discuss the origin of leprechauns to help students answer their St. Patrick's day prompts in their free writing journal pages.
Learning Benefits of this St. Patrick's Day Free Writing Journal:
This free writing journal with prompts for St. Patrick's Day has several benefits, including:
- Encouraging creativity and self-expression by providing a structured format for exploring different topics related to the holiday.
- Helping students to improve writing skills, as the prompts serve as a starting point for developing a narrative or exploring different perspectives.
- Encouraging reflection and introspection, as the prompts help students think about their own experiences, beliefs, and attitudes related to luck, leprechauns, and other St. Patrick's Day-related topics.
- Enhancing student's knowledge about Ireland to learn more about Irish culture, history, and traditions through their writing.
- Planning a St. Patrick's Day party could be fun and exciting, as one of the writing questions that fuels students imagination.
- Exploring the idea of what it would be like if everyone had light green skin and green hair and how it could affect the society in different ways is intriguing.
Free Writing Journal: Discussion Questions
This is the list of pages for the free writing journal for St. Patrick's Day. There are nine pages with writing prompts.
(The journal can be directly-downloaded at the bottom of this post.)
- Pretend that you have found a four-leaf clover that will bring you extraordinary good luck for exactly one day. Write about your lucky day. (Read why 4-leaf clovers are considered lucky here)
- What does it mean to get a “lucky break”? Write about a time when you got one. (Consider something that didn't seem lucky at the time but with hindsight, turned out to be lucky.
- Do you believe in leprechauns? Why or why not? (Consider how your culture contributes to your belief/disbelief. For example, I don't believe in leprechauns but I somewhat believe in Bigfoot. My Bigfoot belief is directly related to living in the PNW for 20 years.)
- What would you do if you saw a leprechaun? (Include world building ideas for the students free writing expression.)
- How would life be different if everyone had light green skin and green hair? (Consider if this would effect equality in your society)
- Plan a St. Patrick's Day Party. What will you do? What will you eat?
- Make a list of everything you know about Ireland. (Complete this page after reading here about Ireland and discussing.)
- Draw a four leaf clover. In the center write, I am lucky because. Then write a different way you are lucky on each of the four leaves.
- You have caught a leprechaun, and he has given you a pot of gold in exchange for his freedom. What do you do with it? ( How much gold? Will you trade it in? How would you explain it? Give details of exactly what you would do with it and why)
How to use the Free Writing Journal for St. Patrick's Day with March writing prompts for personal use or in a classroom.
Teachers are welcome to use the Saint Patrick's Journal in their classrooms. Classroom students can use the journal prompts to write their own stories.
Use the pages to support lesson plans about Ireland or leprechauns. Adapt the journal and prompts for homeschooling according to the student's grade or skill level.
If you like this journal you may like my other Saint Patrick's Day Items:
This St. Patrick's Day Journal for March can only be used for Personal Use or for One Classroom
Download the Free Writing Journal with Prompts for St. Patrick's Day below:
I would love to hear about how you celebrate Saint Patrick's Day. I'd love to hear your comments!