What Do Leprechauns Have To Do With Saint Patrick's Day?

Leprechauns are associated with Saint Patrick’s Day because they both trace their history to Ireland.
  • Both Saint Patrick's Day and leprechauns originated from Ireland.
  • The leprechaun was initially red but turned green to signify association with Ireland.
  • According to legend, spotting a leprechaun is a sign of good luck.

The modern mind thinks of the leprechaun as the tiny, old green man on the Lucky Charms cereal box or the star of the film “Leprechaun in the Hood”. Few people associate the leprechaun with Ireland though it is among the commonly used symbols of the country. A leprechaun is a mythical miniature man whose tales have been told in Irish oral stories for centuries. Irish folktales describe leprechaun as a crotchety, solitary, but mischievous creature. Leprechauns were said to be shoemakers who stockpiled their profits in pots and hid them at the end of rainbows or scattered them around forests, mountains, or rocks. Initially, the creature was red, but in the 20th century, everything Irish was associated with the green color, including leprechauns. Others believed that leprechaun turned green to blend with grass and leaves as a form of camouflage. The tiny mystical man remains elusive to date, and a repetitive faint hammering sound marks his presence. The poem “The Leprechaun,” describes man’s fascination with the mystical creature as driven by greed as many continue to believe that anyone who catches leprechaun is entitled to his pots of wealth, including gold. Aside from the treasure he holds; it is believed that spotting a leprechaun is a sign of good luck.

Saint Patrick’s Day And Leprechauns

Leprechauns are associated with Saint Patrick’s Day because they both trace their history to Ireland. Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17th to commemorate the day Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland died. There is no direct connection between Saint Patrick’s and leprechaun apart from that they are both symbols of Ireland. Most people associate Saint Patrick’s Day with good deeds, drinking beer, making new friends, and participating in parades and festivals. Some people wear to resemble leprechauns and attract children seeking blessings and good luck. Modern culture has conjoined leprechauns and Saint Patrick’s Day, and it is unlikely that the relationship will end soon.

 Leprechauns In Popular Culture

The nature and image of leprechauns have changed over time and even “sanitized” for the modern audience. The mascot of breakfast cereal Lucky Charms has helped improve the image of leprechauns. On the other side, the film “Leprechaun” created the image of a creature with bad intentions. In Ireland, leprechauns spur debate, but for most Americans, the creature only appears around Saint Patrick’s Day. Leprechauns offer a moral figure who warns against trying to get rich quickly by taking what is not rightfully yours at the expense of others.

Green Costume

It is customary to wear shamrocks and green clothing on Saint Patrick’s Day. Saint Patrick is believed to have used the shamrock to teach pagan Irish about the Holy Trinity though there is no evidence to suggest that shamrock was sacred to the locals. The history of the green color in Ireland traces back to the 11th century. According to Irish mythology, Goídel Glas, the ancestor of the Gaels, was saved from a snake bite by Moses’ staff. As a reminder, he retained a green mark for the rest of his life as he led his people to the land free of snakes. 


More in Society