The celebration of St. Patrick's Day has spread throughout the world. Originating in Ireland, March 17 was spent at church and with family, celebrating the teachings of Christianity. When the Irish emigrated to the United States and Canada, the festivities evolved to the wearing of the green, watching parades and eating corned beef and cabbage. In recent years, countries as far away as Japan and Russia have started celebrating St. Patrick's Day, proving you don't have to be Irish to enjoy their 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 (found online at Amazon.com). 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 drive 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, 1 egg and 1 cup of raisins (optional) and mix well. Knead dough slightly and form into a round. Place on baking sheet. Cut "X" in bread top and brush with 1 egg white. Bake for 45-50 minutes at 375 degrees F.

  5. Have the leprechaun visit every night while you sleep. Similar to the "elf on the shelf," the leprechaun comes by every night to do mischievous things like empty the tissue box or hide the remote.

  6. Hunt for four-leaf clovers. If the weather doesn't allow, get crafty and create your own by cutting a green pepper in the middle, paint the edges and make clover stamps.

  7. Research your family tree even if you don't have Irish roots. Start with a free trial on Ancestry.com 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. 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 and yellow mini chocolate candies to represent the gold at the end of the rainbow.

  10. 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 as a reward for trying.

  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 stems before placing them in the vase. Watch as the green food coloring slowly makes it way up the stems and into the white flowers turning the petals green.

  12. Share your blessings with someone else. Although the December holidays are over, the need for volunteers and charitable gifts is still vital. Use your family's time and talents to give back to the community.


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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.