March 2016

      Who on earth was Saint Patrick, and why do we still celebrate his name day? Well, Saint Patrick was a patron Romano-British Christian missionary, saint, and bishop in Ireland who lived between AD 385–461. As well as being a civic festival, in the early 17th century it became observed by the Catholic and Anglican Church, as well as the Eastern Orthodox and Lutheran Church. He is famous for his authorship of the "Declaration."

      It so happens that at sixteen,Patrick was kidnapped by raiders and taken to Gaelic Ireland, where he spent six years working as a shepherd. During this time monasticism was a very popular lifestyle; Patrick became acquainted with the concept of "God". The Declaration says Patrick had a meeting with God, who told him to flee to escape the coast, where a ship would take him back to his native home. After the trip home, Patrick became a priest and a missionary.

     What about the color green? After the 17th century, on St Patrick's Day it became tradition to wear shamrocks and/or green clothing or accessories. Why did St Patrick use the shamrock? He used this three-leaved plant to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish.

                                              Four Legends and Activities For Saint Patrick's Day

1) Blackbirds on Croagh Patrick

2) Saint Patrick Banishing the Snakes

3) The Celtic Cross

4) Feast of Beltaine The Celtic feast of Beltaine was a festival that celebrated the beginning of summer. Traditionally, a fire was lit by Ireland's King on the Hill of Tara, and his fire would be used to light other fires. So, when Saint Patrick lit a fire in advance of High King Laoghaire, he was inviting attention. The druids were sent by Laoghaire to investigate and they reported that Patrick's fire had magical powers because they could not put it out. They warned that if the king did not extinguish Patrick's fire, it would burn forever. King Laoghaire was unable to extinguish the saint's fire and accepted that Patrick's 'magic' was stronger than his. Although he did not choose to convert to Christianity himself, the king endorsed Patrick's mission to convert the Irish.

                                                               Language Arts Grade 3/4

                                                          The Celtic feast of Beltaine

Objective: The grade four student will learn:

1) The Celtic feast of Beltaine derived from ancient Irish mythology and is still celebrated today in some parts of the world;

2) Celtic feast of Beltaine still represents an important part of today's diverse cultural scheme;

3) Saint Patrick is associated with the feast through culture and geographical location;

4) Cattle was an essential element of ancient society and ritual was a big part of that old belief system;

5) A Metaphor is a symbol used to infer something else;

6) Saint Patrick inspired people to change in hope of a better future through his own beliefs and narrative examples;

7) The locations vital to the history of Saint Patrick and be able to plot and label them on a map

8) Medieval society accomplished change despite the fact they could not read or write

Materials: Story Board, Maps of Europe, Notebooks, pens, coloured felt markers, and various story books centred around Saint Patrick and the Celtic feast of Beltaine or similar feasts

Susanna Reich, Amy Bates, Minette's Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat

Catherine M. Valente, Smoky and the Feast of Mabon: A Magical Child Story

Fiona Macdonald Heroes, Gods and Monsters of Celtic Mythology

Jeannie Meekins, Saint Patrick: Ireland's Beloved Saint

Patricia A Pingy, The Story of Saint Patrick's Day

Ursula Arndt, Edna Barth, Shamrocks, Harps, and Shillelaghs: The Story of the St. Patrick's Day Symbols Celtic Feast of Beltaine

     This old festival has its roots in Irish mythology and even though it marks the start of summer around spring, it is often associated with Saint Patrick. Legends indicate it was celebrated in Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. Cattle were led from pastures so that rituals could be performed to perfect them. Fire was kindled, and people with their cattle walked around it. The ashes were thought to hold special powers. There was a festival with food and drink, and vegetation was decorated with ribbons and flowers.


Read various stories based on similar festivals, or ancient Greek and Roman festivals. Read The Story of Saint Patrick's Day. Explain the meaning of "metaphor." Retell one tale and explain how fire is a metaphor. What does fire represent?

     The Celtic feast of Beltaine was celebrated in certain parts of the world. View images of Scotland Ireland, and Isle of Man and plot these places on a world map. Now, put the narrative tale into words and include a labelled map with the story.

Variation: This activity can be integrated with grade three. Read various stories based on similar festivals, or ancient Greek and Roman festivals.

Read The Story of Saint Patrick's Day. Discuss meaning of "metaphor." What did the shamrock represent? Saint Patrick was a missionary who travelled throughout Europe to preach new world values. Plot his journeys on a map and label the cities he might have visited. Devise his script and advise Patrick on what he might have told people about life. Remember, the people of Ireland in the middle ages did not go to school and could not read. Include any visual aids Saint Patrick would have used to explain his purpose.  

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