Family Fun    

A Saint Patrick’s Day for all

Fun activities whether you're Irish or not

The celebration of St. Patrick's Day has spread throughout the world. Originating in Ireland, March 17th traditionally was spent at church and with family, celebrating the teachings of Christianity, as well as the patron saint of Ireland for which the holiday is named.

When the Irish immigrated to the United States and Canada, the festivities evolved to more festively include the wearing of green clothes, watching parades and eating corned beef and cabbage. In recent years, countries as far away as Japan and Russia have begun celebrating St. Patrick's Day, proving you don't have to be Irish to enjoy the spirit of the holiday!

Whether you are Irish or not, take time to explore these fun activities with your family. With a dozen ideas to choose from, you can extend your celebration right through the month of March.

1. Grow a leprechaun. Decorate a terra cotta pot with a leprechaun face. Fill the pot with soil and add shamrock seeds that can be found online. Place the pot in a sunny place and watch the "hair" of your leprechaun grow.

2. Watch Irish movies together. Try "The Secret of Roan Inish," "The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns" or "The Luck of the Irish."

3. Live a greener life. Use this "green" month to teach your children how their efforts can help the environment. Conserve water by taking shorter showers, save energy by shutting off electronics when not in use, and walk instead of driving when possible.

4. Make Irish soda bread. Combine 4 cups of flour, 4 tablespoons of white sugar, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 tablespoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ cup of softened margarine in a bowl. Add 1 cup of buttermilk, one egg and 1 cup of raisins (optional) and mix well. Knead dough slightly and form into a round. Place on baking sheet. Cut an "X" on the top of the rounded dough and brush with one egg white. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

READ MORE: Have a ball at one of these local St. Paddy's Day Parades!

5. Have the leprechaun visit. Similar to "Elf on the Shelf," the leprechaun comes by every night while the family is asleep to do mischievous things, like empty the tissue box or hide the TV remote control.

6. Hunt for shamrocks. If the weather doesn't allow for it outside, get crafty by creating your own. Cut a green pepper in half. The edges will resemble the shape of the shamrock. Dip the edges in paint and make "clover" stamps on paper.

7. Make a family tree. Even if you don't have an Irish ancestry, research your family tree. Start with a free trial on and see how far back you can trace your family's history. You may be surprised to find a few "leprechauns" hanging out in your family tree!

8. Get lucky. Pull out the cards, board games or video games and challenge your family to see who has the "Luck of the Irish."

9. Make rainbow cupcakes. Prepare a box of white cake mix as directed. Place equal amounts of the batter in six separate bowls. Add food coloring to each bowl to make yellow, orange, red, green, blue and purple batter. Spoon equal amounts of the colored batter into a prepared muffin tin. Do not mix. Bake as directed. Decorate with green icing with yellow mini chocolate candies on top to represent the gold at the end of the rainbow.

READ MORE: Tips for starting your own St. Patrick's Day tradition

10. Eat healthier. Incorporate a green vegetable into your dinner plan each night. Try broccoli, Brussels sprouts, peas, spinach, asparagus, cucumbers and green beans. Tell your kids that leprechauns love everything green and that you made some of their favorite meals. It's a great way to get them to try new veggies. For really picky eaters, offer a chocolate gold coin "chaser" as a reward for trying new healthy foods.

11. Make your own green flowers. Buy a bouquet of white carnations. Fill a vase with water and several drops of green food coloring. Make a fresh cut in the bottom of the flower stem before placing them in the vase. Watch as the green food coloring slowly makes it way up the stem and into the white flower turning the petals green.

12. Share your blessings. Although the December holidays are over, the need for volunteers and charitable gifts are still vital. Use your family's time and talents to give back to the community. You might bring along the supplies from some of the ideas above to share with others at a senior or youth center.

Pam Molnar is a freelance journalist and mother of three. With Irish roots in their family tree, St. Patrick's Day is always celebrated in their home