It was a mostly green table for the Quilt Groups, with the exception of gold coins and a potato!
Even though I wasn't planning on getting into the religious history, I figured I better at least remind myself about the Patron Saint of Ireland and his use of the shamrock. There were quite a few Irish Catholics in my groups who were pretty happy to share.
What to Drink!
But mostly the groups wanted to talk about the fun stuff. Like what do people drink on St. Patrick's Day? Green tea? Probably not. But green beer and Irish whiskey came up a lot!
In my first group, my dear friend Betty actually brought me a little leprechaun gift. This came in handy as a prop to discuss the folklore involving the little fellow and his pot of gold and the rainbow. In fact it's amazing how many folks were sort of looking like leprechauns with all the green and gold hats.
We talked about Irish dance, especially clogging and jigging. I brought the old wooden "Limberjack" to use with our Irish jig music. First I just demonstrated and they watched how the little man danced along with each tap on the board. Then everyone got a turn, which took a lot of cooperation.
We needed someone to hold down the end of the board and another to hold the dowel that held the man and one more person to tap or pat the board to make him dance and jump
It was fun to watch the expressions as each got a turn. At first there was lots of concentration, getting set up and trying it out. And then the crazy surprise movements of the little wooden man, suddenly had whole table laughing. Even though I pasted a shamrock on the puppet to help him imitate a dancing leprechaun, we all determined he failed at the art of Irish dance. Irish dancers do not whip their arms like windmills.
Note: I hear leprechauns have the ability to disappear. I see he did just that, in the picture above! Where did he go?
Shamrock or 4-Leaf Clover?
In the States we see a lot of St. Pat decorations using 4-leaf clovers. That's supposed to be lucky after all. You need to have the Luck of the Irish to find one, since only about 1 in 10,000 real clovers have 4 leaves.
So we did a little research and reminded ourselves that all shamrocks are clovers, but not all clovers are shamrocks. A shamrock has 3 leaves and evidently St. Patrick used one as a prop to teach about the Holy Trinity. So we decided we should focus on the 3-leaf clover if we want to look like we know anything!
I found a great book on the history of the NYC's St. Patrick's Day parades, that that have been happening since 1762! Ken said he remembered sitting on the steps of St. Patrick's Cathedral and watching the parade as a child.
Mary, who grew up in New Orleans had different St. Pat Parade memories. She remembers the potatoes that were tossed from floats. Since we had a potato on the table, we did our own tossing. We turned on some lively Irish music and passed it around the table until the music stopped.
Whoever was holding the potato when the music stopped got a coin! (Opposite of the hot potato loser) I didn't give away these old Irish coins that I collected as a child, but I had some dime store "gold coins"
to give to the winners. One winner announced, "Just like the gold in the pot at the end of the rainbow!" We all tried to ignore the "Made in China" print on the back.
What Did I Learn?
I learned a little something about prizes and surprises. I was pleasantly surprised when Betty gave me the leprechaun gift. When a gentleman who had just been observing one of my groups, later handed me a drawing he'd done, I was touched. What nice surprises.
However the coin prizes I handed out to my kids group at the shelter, did not go over as well. Before I even got out the door, kids were fighting over the coins. "Joe took mine!" I took out a marker and wrote names on each coin before I left. When will I learn?
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.