Saint Patrick’s Day in Vancouver arrives Thursday March 17th and we’ve got lots of fun ideas to celebrate Ireland’s heritage and culture. In Fact, some luck of the Irish may even rub off on you and your family! With a live weekend festival downtown Vancouver and a variety of ways to celebrate from home, get your green on and brush up on your best Riverdance jig.
CelticFest is back, in-person! On March 19-20, 2022 the free, all-ages, outdoor two-day festival features entertainment, music, circus acts, a photo booth, sports demonstrations, Irish Wolfhounds and more. In addition, the festival stage runs from 11am – 9pm Saturday and 11am – 6pm Sunday at Robson Plaza and šxwƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵSquare – North of the Vancouver Art Gallery. Additionally, some family highlights include kids storytelling with Abegael Fisher, performances from the O’Brien School of Irish Dance and a high-energy show from family-favourite, the MomBop Band. Finally, there will be games, jugglers, face painting and a tent for families.
See the full festival schedule (and highlights for parents) at: www.celticfestvancouver.com
>> Featuring the MomBob Band – As A Mother Podcast and Video Series: I Move As a Mother, Ep. 3
Go Green and Healthy
Saint Patrick’s Day is a great opportunity to eat and drink all things green! So, stop by The Juice Truck and get a veggie packed green smoothie or make your own at home. One of our favourite green smoothies is by local North Vancouver mama and Dietician Jenn Messina. Our favourite is the Atomic Green smoothie.
Learn Some Irish Language
Lá fhéile Pádraig sona duit means Happy Saint Patrick’s Day in Irish, one of the Celtic languages. For an introduction to Irish language and some new fun phrases, watch this video with Vancouver’s Fiona Finn. She teaches news skills and words including basic greetings, colours and past times.
Storytelling and Legends
As you know, the Irish are known for their story-telling. Legend says that finding a four-leaf clover on St. Patrick’s Day brings you luck. The first leaf represents hope, the second leaf is faith, the third leaf love and the fourth represents luck.
Mythical Irish leprechauns are believed to have magical powers. They store coins in a hidden pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. So, if you catch a leprechaun, they will grant you three wishes in exchange for being let go.
Some of our favourite Irish books are How to Catch a Leprechaun by Adam Wallace and The Salmon of Knowledge by Celina Buckley.
In addition, Folklore says that leprechauns pinch humans who don’t wear green for St. Patrick’s Day, so dress appropriately!
Bake With the Irish in Mind
Finally, the Irish love their baking! An Irish favourite is soda bread, a hearty, tasty loaf best served with lots of butter. Soda bread goes nicely alongside beef stew, with Guinness for flavour and shamrock shortbread cookies and a cup of tea for dessert.
Uprising Breads Bakery has some tasty shamrock cookies as well as delicious soda bread you’ll want several slices of.
The Bandit Baker is Vancouver’s top baker for all things tasty and Irish. Find their goodies at CelticFest March 19-20 with fresh pastries, breads, scones and more!
Celtic Treasure Chest is the best spot in town for chocolates, sweets and baking supplies straight from Ireland!
You can also try making your own soda bread with our favourite recipe from Loved and Kneaded
This traditional quick bread is as easy as it is delicious! So, gather the following ingredients and to make a perfect loaf of bread within one hour.
3.5 Cups plain white flour (NOT bread flour)
1.75 Cups buttermilk (plus extra for washing)
1 large egg
2 tbsp room temp. salted butter
1 tbsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup of white sugar (optional)
½ cup of dried fruit and/or nuts (optional)
Firstly, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Secondly, Add flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder to a large mixing bowl. Lastly, add the butter, rubbing between your fingertips until your mix looks like breadcrumbs.
Next, add your sugar, dried fruit and/or nuts, if you are using them.
Whisk the egg and buttermilk together in a separate container. Next, make a well in the centre of your dry ingredients and slowly incorporate the liquid into the flour.
*Please note: it’s very important to handle your mix as little as possible so as not to overwork the dough, resulting in a tough, dense bread. You can use a spatula, but I prefer to use my hands. Finally, once you have all of your liquid added, you should have a shaggy, slightly sticky dough.
Kneading and Shaping Your Dough
Next, turn the dough on to a slightly floured surface and quickly and gently form your bread into the desired shape. In addition, I suggest the traditional circular loaf shape. Similarly, you can either let this bread bake freeform on a floured flat baking sheet, or place it into a floured 9”cake tin, to keep a uniform shape. Finally, cut a cross in the top of the loaf (do not miss this step!) to allow the dough to stretch as it bakes but also, according to Irish folklore, this step should release any fairies trapped in your bread that might interfere with the bake.
Egg Wash Finish
Wash the top of your bread with a little buttermilk and place in a preheated oven for 45 minutes to an hour. To check if your bread is ready, you can insert a skewer, or something narrow into the loaf and if it comes out clean, your bread is ready. You can also tap the bottom of your loaf, which should sound like a hollow drum. Enjoy with cheddar cheese or your favourite jam and a nice cup of tea!
Jenn Wint is a writer, communications strategist and a public relations specialist. She is passionate about storytelling and community. Jenn lives in East Vancouver with her husband, 3yo son and 1yo daughter. You’ll find them hanging around Vancouver’s playgrounds, water parks, coffee shops and anywhere that bakes fresh cookies in-house!