Every year around the globe people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th as what many consider a cultural and/or religious celebration to honor the feast day of St. Patrick – the patron saint of Ireland. What was once celebrated with feasts and religious services is now considered a day full of festivities, like drinking Irish beer and wearing green, for those who immigrated from Ireland bringing the Irish holiday with them. So, this day is spent honoring saints and drinking beer, but who came up with the idea of little green men hoarding pots of gold?
According to Irish folklore, leprechauns are small and spritely fairies who were once shoemakers. They lived in caves underground or in trees in an effort to hide from the humans. According to the tale, their job as a shoemaker resulted in pots of gold. Later, these small fairies became associated with the color green and good luck, associated with the term “luck of the Irish.” If these little men represent good luck and wealth, why do some consider them to be so evil and mischievous?
According to many other cultures, fairies are a sweet and beautiful bunch, but not in Ireland. Their’s are tales of anger, drowning people, souring milk, and evil tricks. It is said that these tiny green men are known to be tricksters and deceivers. They deceive humans seeking wealth and good luck as warnings against their rapacity. It is believed by some that leprechauns will hide their pots of gold in order to lure
humans in to grant them three wishes, however, they will use the wishes to lead them down more mischievous paths
Growing up, we were told tales of the tiny green mischiefs who granted wishes and lured humans to gold. So, I cannot be the only one who used to lay little leprechaun traps as a kid, right? I remember using shoeboxes and laying “elaborate” traps – as a five year old. We would decorate it with green and lay out lucky charms of all things to lure them in. After being away from the trap for a couple hours we would come back to gold coins all over the trap and what looked like tiny gold-dusted footsteps, but no leprechaun. My disappointed five-year-old self would sit down, eating the chocolate gold coins, wondering why the little fairies did not like me.
It is clear, on either side, these small creatures hone a certain set of skills that they may or may not use to lead you astray depending on which tales you believe. Are they really evil? To some it seems as though they use their abilities to show humans to not be greedy. Maybe that is why they are deemed to be mischievous, humans don’t like that we cannot get more from them. I sure did not appreciate being tricked by them as a kid, or the pinching I’d receive for not wearing green. No matter what lore you believe in, it is a universal acknowledgment that these small fairies are a shy bunch, only coming out when we or they want something. So, do you still want to find that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?