Today I’m sharing a little history of St. Patrick’s Day and a fun set of bingo cards for the whole family. I wish to thank the nameless artists who have drawn free graphics and shared them. I found many wonderful Irish graphics that are used in this post and on the bingo cards. You are so talented!
History of St. Patrick’s Day
St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. He was born in Britain during Roman times in the late 4th Century to a wealthy family. Patrick’s birth name was Maewyn. At the age of 16, he was kidnapped and taken to Ireland as a slave. He escaped to a monastery in Gaul (France) and converted to Christianity. He returned to Ireland as a missionary in 431 or 432. There were some Christians already in Ireland, but legend has it Patrick confronted the Druids at Tara and abolished their pagan rites, making Christianity more widespread. By the time of his death on March 17, 461, he had established monasteries, churches, and schools.
The Celtic Cross is an ancient symbol even predating Christianity. There are various theories regarding the meaning of the circle and cross but there is no definitive answer. Christianity made it part of the Irish church and a modern interpretation is that the circle is to represent God’s never ending love.
For centuries, St. Patrick’s Day was a religious holiday in Ireland and was celebrated in church. When the Irish emigrated to the U.S., they created social celebrations and parades to celebrate and remember their homeland on St. Patrick’s Day. Eighteenth century Irish soldiers in the British Army who fought in the Revolutionary War held the first St. Patrick Day parade in New York. The celebrations became a way for the Irish to connect with their roots after they moved to America. The Great Famine, or the Great Hunger, was a period in Ireland between 1845 and 1849 of mass starvation, disease, and emigration as disease made the potato crops fail for years. Many Irish emigrated to countries around the world with many of them coming to America. Ireland adopted the American idea of a parade in 1931 when a St Patrick’s Day parade was held in Dublin.
Enjoy St. Patrick’s Day
Irish Americans created a social, cultural holiday celebrating Irish heritage and invited everyone else to join the fun. There is a saying “Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.”
Step dancing in Ireland was developed during a time when a religious leader banned couples touching as they danced to prevent sin. The Irish love music and dance and invented a new dance to meet the rules. Today modern step dance may have couple occasionally touch hands but that was not allowed in the original times.
Why not play some fun Irish traditional music to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Watch a performance of River Dance, a show of music and step dance, which originated as an interval performance act during the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest, featuring Irish dancing champions Jean Butler and Michael Flatley. Michael is an Irish American who loved Irish step dancing and went to Ireland to compete. He choreographed the original River Dance show which made a traditional folk dance into a modern art form. He starred in River Dance until he left to develop his own show, Lord of the Dance. Today River Dance and other dance troops still present wonderful shows of Irish music and dance.
Play a game of Irish Bingo and enjoy St. Patrick’s Day! For more games and fun activities for the day, see PBS Learning Media: Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day for resources. For art work check out Celtic Cross & Knot Prints and a inspirational Irish blessing.
A couple of years ago, I wrote about Corned Beef and Cabbage not being a traditional Irish dish but a dish embraced by Irish American immigrants. If you want corned beef, have it or try some Shepherd’s pie or Colcannon Mashed Potatoes With Greens.
Now let’s talk about a fun Irish bingo game.
St. Patrick’s Day Bingo
St. Patrick’s Day Bingo Set has 8 bingo card.
The set has 6 pages of Irish information on the card symbols. Some are just cute graphics like a green cupcake.
Others are part of Irish heritage and tradition like the Shillelagh walking stick and the harp, the national emblem of Ireland. The Shillelagh is a walking stick made of Blackthorn. Blackthorn is a very hard, close-grained wood and makes a fine walking stick.
The harp is an ancient instrument and harp music was an important part of Irish tradition since the 10th Century. The Celtic harp is triangular. In the 16th century the British crown saw the harp as a threat and had all harps in Ireland burned and harpists executed to try and crush Irish rebellion. It was almost 200 years later that harps was legally played again in Ireland.
The Celtic Tree of Life is usually drawn showing the branches reaching skyward and the roots spreading out into the earth below. This symbolized the Druid belief in the link between heaven and earth. Trees were an important aspect of Celtic culture. The Druids would hold classes under trees. When clearing a new site, a large tree was left in the center of the clearing. They in fact considered trees the ancestors of man and a connection to the other world. The most sacred of all trees was the oak or “daur” in Celtic. Our modern word door comes from the Celtic word or similar ancient words like the Old English duru or dor . ( Similar words are also found in Scandinavian and Germanic languages.) The oak tree was a door to the spiritual world.
Irish folklore includes stories about the “little people”, leprechauns a type of fairy, who are thought to be small men with beards and cap. I read that in past times they were said to wear red but somewhere the stories changed to green. Now many little graphics show little men dancing the jig, a traditional solo dance, or playing a fiddle. The Irish love music and a good time.
Shamrocks are an Irish clover with 3 leaves. It is said St. Patrick chose the shamrock to represent the Trinity, but the shamrock has been an important part of Irish tradition since the Druids. Some modern graphics show a 4 leaf clover to link in to Irish luck. That is not a shamrock. Like the trinity, the number is 3. The graphic below is not used on the cards but is a Celtic stylized shamrock. I love Celtic design with all the curvy lines.
Nearly everyone has played bingo but I’ve made simple instructions for any beginners playing the game.
- Print the bingo cards on heavier 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper.
- There are 2 bingo cards to a page. Cut them to separate.
- If you’d like to use the cards multiple times, laminate them.
- Share the information on the card symbols pages by having someone read them.
- Cut out the pages of boards elements.
- Put them in a box or bag for drawing.
- Have a large bowl of Life Savers, small mints, or jelly beans to use as tokens
- Draw a symbol from the box and read the word.
- Each player covers the symbol drawn with a Life Saver or jelly bean if it is on his bingo card.
- The person who covers a horizontal or vertical line first wins.
For more information on anything Irish, check out Ireland Calling, a great informative site.
Get exclusive free printables & all the news straight to your mailbox!
Please see my Link Parties page for the parties where this post was shared