St. Patricks Day-Potato in Shoe

It’s been a holiday tradition in family ever since I can remember that on St. Patrick’s day, all the kids in my family would place their shoes at the bottom of the staircase in our house with a potato in it. We did this in the hopes that the Leprechaun would come to our home and place money in our shoes because he was grateful for the potatoes we gave him. This tradition was carried up until the age of 9 when we understood that it was simply our parents who placed the money in the shoe.


Description of Informant: My father, the informant, comes from a very catholic, Irish background. My grandfather, his dad, grew up in Lowell, Massachusetts as the son of two Irish immigrants. Many of the traditions that my grandfather learned as a kid were based on to my father through holiday tradition and thus, were practiced in my family.

Analysis: My analysis of this tradition has to do mainly with the fact that this tradition derives from Irish history. From 1845-1852 Ireland experienced the worst famine in the history of their country where nearly 1 million people died because of failing crops and spreading disease. Due to the fact that the Leprechaun is of Irish descent, it makes sense that a potato serves as a gift to such an Irish figure as the Leprechaun. Therefore, the Leprechaun sees the potato in the shoe on St. Patty’s Day (an Irish holiday) as a symbol of well-being and puts money in the shoes as a response to the potato.