Learn the true story of St. Patrick's Day, and then throw a party

Carla Estell  ·  Mar 01, 2017

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In our family we’ve looked at holidays as a natural way to get our children more engaged in learning, and as a great opportunity to share the Gospel with friends and neighbors.

So when our kids complained about missing out on a St. Patrick’s Day party like the kids at school, we thought, “Why not host our own?”

We invited the neighborhood children over for backyard fun and games, complete with the green Kool-aid and cupcakes. Later that night we had a bonfire and invited the parents to come. It gave us a natural way to talk about God’s amazing grace in Patrick’s life.

My husband, Brian, really got into it, dressing up as Patrick to make an appearance and tell stories in first person. I developed a coloring book for children, which you can download at bit.ly/colorstpatrick.

We were accomplishing several goals at once. We were teaching our children about the Gospel and our Christian heritage, while reaching out to our neighbors. Our children saw that learning is fun, and at the same time they gained experience serving and hosting others.

We even taught about discerning fact from fiction when studying history. We know the content has stayed with them because they got involved in the story. They didn’t just read about it in a textbook.

Our backyard St. Patrick’s Day activities not only turned into a family tradition, but it also brought the folks in our neighborhood together for many years.

We’ve also done Christmas plays with parts for the neighbor children. The week before Easter we’ve gone on pre-dawn hikes meditating on the Gospel passages about the women discovering the empty tomb. At Thanksgiving, we’ve dressed up as Pilgrims and Indians.

As the years go by, we have seen even more significance to these experiences.

Romans 12 exhorts us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The chapter concludes, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

We don’t have to give in to ignorance, misinformation, and misinterpretation of Patrick’s life. We don’t have to let the world get away with twisting powerful symbols and reminders of God’s hand in history. We can put the “holy” back in  holiday, using it as an opportunity to worship God and point others toward Him.

Of course, you don’t have go to the lengths of hosting a party to do this. You can start by learning a little bit about Patrick so you are ready when an opportunity arises in conversation. This St. Patrick’s Day, simply tell some aspect of Patrick’s story to your kids, co-workers, or neighbors and allow the story to illustrate the life-changing power of the Gospel.

Carla Estell is the wife of Brian Estell, who works in Communications at Samaritan Ministries. Visit StonesTrueStory.org for more about their ministry.