There’s no question that we live in one of the most Irish cities in America. Boston and Irish heritage are practically synonymous! So when March 17 rolls around each year, it’s hard to miss the gaggle of green that flanks the city, from parades to celebrations to the melodies of bagpipes and fiddles tucked around each city corner — not to mention the corned beef and cabbage that pops up on many a menu. Everyone can be Irish for the day, as the cheer of celebrating this holiday is contagious, no doubt. But doing so now, a decade removed from my early 20s, looks a bit different than it did then.
My kids are more than half Irish, and at ages 3.5 and nearly 2, they’re learning about the culture. This year, I’m excited to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with them in some ways that differ greatly from the classic Faneuil Hall pub crawls I used to partake in years ago. Here are a few ideas:
Spend a family day at the Irish Cultural Centre of New England
Saturday, March 18, Canton, 11 a.m.–3 p.m., $10/person
Storytelling, Irish dancing, soda bread baking, arts and crafts, learning about the Celtic alphabet — these are just a few of the many activities the Irish Cultural Centre of New England is offering at its annual family day, which takes place the day after St. Patrick’s Day. Also on tap are hayrides through the premises and woods, in search of a black pot with treasures inside, and an Irish cottage offering hot chocolate. For $10 a person, which includes breakfast (served 11 a.m.–2 p.m.), you and your family can get as close to being in Ireland as possible without having to board an airplane.
Watch the Southie parade
Sunday, March 19, South Boston, 1 p.m.
We lived in South Boston until my older son was 4 months old, so the annual Southie parade, usually before or after St. Patrick’s Day, was always a day to look forward to. I’m excited to take my kids to this parade, to really see the crowds gather and cheer on the Irish musicians, dancers, and colorful floats as they traverse our old neighborhood. And bonus: Sullivan’s, the mainstay lunch spot of Castle Island, opened in late February, so we will be sure to stop there afterward for a bite to eat.
Go see live Irish music
While my boys are a bit too young still for the Wolfe Tones or Dropkick Murphys, concerts that my husband and I used to frequent every year in March, I think it would be fun to take them to one of Boston’s hundreds of Irish pubs for lunch — where live music is playing — prior to the rowdy crowds taking over. The sounds of the tin whistles, accordions, flutes, and fiddles are sure to spark curiosity in my music-loving little guys. I know every time I hear Irish music, I get goosebumps and nostalgic for this beautiful culture. Here are just a few Irish pubs that often have live music during the day: The Burren (Somerville), Mr. Dooley’s (downtown Boston), Solas (Back Bay), and The Junction (South Boston).
Don green attire and scally caps
This year, I bought my kids shirts that say “Irish I Had a Mustache,” that they will likely wear several times leading up to St. Patrick’s Day. What will they wear to the parade in Southie? Irish sweaters and scally caps, of course!
A visit from the leprechaun
I think this will be the first year a leprechaun will pay a visit to my house, leaving gold chocolate coins under the pillows of some sweet little boys. As I was growing up, my parents began this tradition, and it always brought a bit of extra magic and excitement to St. Patrick’s Day.
How do you plan to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with your kids? May the luck of the Irish be with you!