Each year millions of people in the U.S. celebrate St. Patrick‚Äôs Day, and wearing something green is the most common way we pay tribute to this holiday. However, there are also parades, green tinted beer, restaurants spotlight Irish cuisine, pubs play traditional music, and shamrock and leprechaun decorations are plastered everywhere.¬† As with most any event in the U.S., we take the Irish theme to an extreme.
Tales of leprechauns have been the subject of Gaelic mythology for over 1000 years, and it depends on the region in Ireland, of where the story originated, as to what color the wee fellow might be wearing. Before the 20th century, he was commonly described as being dressed in red.
Source of the Pot O’ Gold
If you follow a rainbow, you may find a pot of gold buried at the end, but how did the leprechauns obtain such treasures? These pintsize guys are workaholics, and they earn their coinage from the fairies.¬† You won’t catch them on a spending spree either; they hoard their earnings away in a large, hidden crock.
What exactly do leprechauns do for a living?¬† Listen for a faint tapping sound, and you just might come across one busily making shoes.¬† It is said that this is the only way to find the miniature cobblers.¬† Should you be fortunate enough to discover the little guy, don’t take your eyes off him, or he will disappear into thin air.¬† As will your chances of following him back to his crock of gold.
Darby O’Gill and the Little People
It wasn’t until Walt Disney came back from a trip to Ireland and created a movie featuring leprechauns in 1959 that they became part of U.S. pop culture. Before Darby O’ Gill and the Little People, these men of short stature were just one of the many types of fairies depicted in Gaelic folklore.
Leprechauns and St. Patrick‚Äôs Day
Prior to the debut of the Disney movie, there appears to have been no affiliation between leprechauns and St. Patrick’s Day. Once again, the correlation between the two seems to have come from a U.S. interpretation of Irish tradition and mythology.
I sincerely hope that the Irish do not take any offense of our rendering of St. Patrick’s Day and leprechauns. Though we may be misinformed about some of their true meanings, we are simply celebrating the country’s heritage and that of our relatives/ancestors. We love Ireland and the Irish culture, and this day of festivities allows us the opportunity to toast to them. Why not learn more about Gaelic mythology first hand by booking some flights to Dublin and visiting the National Leprechaun Museum?