Cause for a Celebration?
If you don’t have young kids, you might not be aware that St. Patrick’s Day has become a THING.
What do you mean, you might be thinking? Wasn’t it always a thing?
Think back to your childhood. What happened on St. Pat’s? Did you pull out a green shirt? Maybe wear a shamrock pin? Dye some food green? Eat corned beef and cabbage?
My family is primarily Irish, so that was what we did. My mom also loves gift giving, so the “Leaping Leprechaun” would bring us all a small gift that we got to open over breakfast. And we watched one of our favorite family movies, “The Quiet Man.”
We had holiday decorations around the house: green shamrocks and little Irish cottage music boxes.
But this was unusual. We never even really talked about those traditions outside of the family. If it ever came up in school, I quickly became aware that no one else celebrated the holiday like we did, which was fine. After all, not everyone I knew was Irish so it made sense.
And then there was college.
You may have fond memories of St. Pat’s as the “drinking holiday.” Suddenly, March 17 was a sea of green clothes, scrounged from the backs of closets (luckily my school color was green, which made it easier) and all day drinking. St. Pat’s was definitely a time to party in college.
In the last few years, since I now know so many parents, I have started to see more and more about St. Patrick’s Day on social media. It’s no longer just a day to wear green and eat soda bread. Children now make leprechaun traps.
I’m not sure when this new tradition started, but I see it more and more each year as my friends’ kids go to school. Elementary schools or families celebrate the day by leaving some sort of trap the night before to catch a leprechaun. The next day, there are signs that the leprechaun visited, usually in the form of making a mess or leaving a gift or causing some sort of mischief, similar to the Elf on the Shelf.
The leprechaun trap is a cute idea. I can see my mom having been all over it if it existed when I was a kid. I understand how kids get excited over making traps and finding chocolate gold coins or a gift the next morning. I really do get it.
And yet, it’s just another way that Pinterest and other forms of social media are inflating childhood.
Parents look for the best ideas on social media to give their child a holiday “experience.” The kid goes to school and raves about it. Other kids wonder where their leprechaun was. Other kids compare their own experience. And suddenly it’s a THING.
Parents then rush to Pinterest and look for ideas they can throw together while their kid is napping or at school… and the cycle begins all over again.
Case in point, my four year old nephew asked his mom why the leprechaun didn’t visit on St. Patrick’s Day. The day before his school had a little celebration where the leprechaun made a mess and delivered treat bags to each child, so he already had the idea in his head. She thought quickly and while he was off hunting for the leprechaun’s mess, she overturned a kitchen bench and scattered green necklaces on the floor. He was thrilled.
When she posted about this on social media, she admitted that she hadn’t had the leprechaun growing up. None of us did. We’re all just flying by the seat of our pants when it comes to these new traditions and navigating them the best we can.
Many of us are rolling our eyes, while many others are throwing ourselves into the idea wholeheartedly. After all, who doesn’t want to see your child become absolutely thrilled at the idea of a leprechaun visiting your house?
It’s almost like capturing the wonder of Christmas morning all over again.
I think that’s my issue with all of this. Christmas used to be a one-time-of-year thing. Now there are dozens of other celebrations and traditions to keep up with. 100 days of school. The Elf on the Shelf. It seems never ending, and my kids aren’t even old enough to know about most of these yet.
The problem is that we’re all trying to make our kids’ lives magical and wonderful and as good as their classmates’. So we scour the internet, looking for bigger and better ideas. How to top last year’s. How to make the day as good as the creative mom’s kids. When does it end?
Around the holidays last year, I wrote an article about parenting FOMO – or fear of missing out – which I think drives much of these over the top traditions. What I have determined is that if some new idea doesn’t sit right with me, I can always come up with my own traditions.
This year on St. Patrick’s day, my older daughter and I baked Irish soda bread together. We listened to traditional Irish music and read some Irish folktales. That night we went to our annual family dinner at my sister-in-law’s house. It was a lovely day filled with traditions that felt meaningful and purposeful to me.
I’m not opposed to introducing the leprechaun trap idea at one point. After all, it’s not too far off from a tradition that I grew up with and it’s only one day (unlike a full month of Elf on the Shelf shenanigans).
I refuse to disparage any parent who wants to make a big deal out of March 17 or any other minor holiday. It might not be my thing, but if it makes them and their children happy, they should go for it.
On the other hand, parents who are exhausted from day to day life and simply can’t summon the energy to be a make any holiday a THING, please know that this is okay. Kids want quality time with their parents, however that looks in your home. If finding a clean green shirt on March 17 is what works for you, stick with that.
After all, you can always claim that the leprechaun’s biggest trick was skipping your house all together!