Growing up Irish-American, my family has always celebrated Saint Patrick’s Day and it quickly became one of my favorite holidays. When I was 24, I moved to Scotland, UK to get my Master’s degree and quickly found out that Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated very differently in America versus Ireland. Many people from Northern and the Republic of Ireland live in Scotland, including the roommate I lived with in Scotland for 3 years. What I learned from various Irish friends and classmates was that people in Ireland do not put on green or put out gold for leprechauns of March 17th. In fact, they tend to clear out of Dublin, the capital city of Ireland, and let the tourists take over for Saint Patrick’s Day weekend. The biggest event that tends to fall on Saint Patrick’s Day is the last few or final 6 Nations Rugby Championship matches. 6 Nations matches frequently overshadow any excitement of Saint Patrick’s Day for native Irish people.
So, when I moved back to the States and started working with Middle School students I decided to change the way I celebrate and teach Saint Patrick’s Day. It is still one of my favorite holidays and I always make a big deal about it, but I tend to stay away from pots of gold and leprechauns. The following are alternative topics I focus on with my students:
Biographies - If you like activities focusing on the life/works of famous people here’s a few good and modern choices: Saoirse Ronan (Actress), Bono (Musician, U2), Michael Fassbender (Actor, Magneto in the newer X-Men series), Niall Horan (Musician, previous One Direction member), Katie McGrath (Actress, Lena Luthor on Supergirl).
Examples for Context Clues/Vocabulary
Colin wanted to play football outside today, but he couldn’t. He doesn’t mind playing in a little rain, but it was bucketing down.
Answer: raining hard
Mark was so bored after staying home all week sick that once he felt better, he texted all of his friends, “what’s the craic?”
Answer: what is going on that is fun
After 2 hours of rugby practice, Conner was knackered.
The tardy bell rang and the boys were still in their last class. The oldest boy yelled, “Come on, we need to leg it to Mr. McConnell’s class!”
Answer: run fast/hurry up
The vase was in tatters after the football knocked it onto the ground.
Answer: broken pieces
Other Irish to American vocabulary for words:
Flatmate - Roommate
Runners - Sneakers
Jumper - Sweater
Stag Do – Bachelor Party
Hen Party – Bachelorette Party
Football - Soccer
Rubbish Bin – Trash Can
Dummy – Pacifier
Pram - Stroller
Till – Cash Register
Crisps – Chips
Chips – French Fries
Candy Floss – Cotton Candy
Gaff – Nice house
Plaster – Band Aid
Boot – Trunk
Torch – Flashlight
I hope this post gave you some alternative ideas to focus on this Saint Patrick’s Day. Holidays celebrating other cultures are a great chance to broaden the horizons for our students and clients. Rainbows, glittery shamrocks, and leprechaun hats can still be fun decorations, but including current Irish culture and topics that are important to the people in Ireland is so beneficial for our students and clients.
Author: Jillian Donahue, M.Sc. CCC-CLP