Every St. Patrick’s Day millions of Americans celebrate the holiday by going to Irish pubs, drinking beer, and wearing green. The holiday is full of symbols, from the shamrock, to the tiny leprechaun. What are leprechauns exactly, and why have they entered the folklore?
Terrible but satisfyingly hilarious movies aside, there’s more to Leprechauns than giving Warwick Davis a paycheck between the filming of Willow and Harry Potter.
According to legend, a leprechaun, if captured by a human being, has to grant the person three wishes to regain his freedom.
The legend of the Leprechaun, however, is one of morality, as the leprechaun will try to deceive the person who has captured him, or follows him. The tales serve to show the listener that trying to get rich quick from schemes and wishes is a flawed approach.
It turns out that Leprechauns were not always traditionally clothed in green but at one point were said to wear red clothes.
Furthermore, the leprechauns are said to have been derived from medieval folklore about water spirits, and the Leprechauns are apparently fond of bodies of water and damp basements.
Leprechauns were also apparently cobblers, and the sound of tiny hammers driving nails into the soles of shoes was said to indicate that a leprechaun was nearby.
We make a lot of wisecracks on this blog but the following sentence is in no way a joke. Leprechauns are considered a protected species by the European Union.
Now in reality, the 2011 EU directive was put forth to protect the flora and fauna of the Sliabh Foy Loop, which has rich biodiversity and is home to a number of natural wonders. The area, however, is also home to a local leprechaun legend, in which a man found some small abandoned clothes and gold coins on a burnt patch of ground in 1989.
Naturally, instead of deciding that he’d been tricked by something other than a crafty mythical gnome, the man ended up building a tavern at the site called PJ’s Pub, going so far as to frame the clothes, likely to the chagrin of the original prankster who probably has to admit that things went a little too far.
I have to admit, this thing about leprechauns makes me want to visit Ireland!
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