Tag Archives: holiday traditions

Classroom Leprechauns

Content:

Me: Where did you get the idea to have a leprechaun visit your class?

LS: Well really it goes back to when I was in first grade. So I remember, I guess we made a trap or something, but I remember putting out, um, Lucky Charms cereal and I think we had some kind of like class trap. I could be wrong, but I just remember, like we were trying to trap the leprechaun and um, we, I mean, I don’t remember for sure cause you know, that was many years ago, but I guess the leprechaun did like set our trap off, but we didn’t catch him. You know? I don’t remember if he left anything. I think he left a pot of gold or something, you know, like the chocolate gold, but I don’t really remember what happened there, but I remember that somebody in my class like went to the bathroom and then they came running back and they were like, “I saw the leprechaun!” And they were like claiming they saw this like little hat, like peek out of the ceiling tile in the bathroom. Which, I mean, for me, I was like, I don’t want someone looking at me in the bathroom. Like, it’s a little weird. But to me it kind of was like, almost like, “oh my God, they’re real.” Like, you know? And so that was just like always a fun memory. And I don’t really remember doing a lot with St Patrick’s day after that. Like I remember we all wore green and like, you know, everyone was like, “oh I’ll pinch you,” if you didn’t. But like that’s the one time I remember like having that experience. And so then when I started teaching, of course, like you find ways to make every holiday fun and you know, engaging. Um, and so somewhere along the way, I guess it was my first year teaching, um my parapro at the time, she was like, oh yeah, we usually like to trash the room. And she had some old green Garland and like some decorations that they had used before. And they’re like, oh yeah, we just like wreck it and leave like a treat. And so I think we left gold coins at their seat and like gave them like a cookie or cupcake or something with green frosting. And we like just tore up the and then she threw like the Garland and other decorations, like up on the board and like made it look like, you know, I, I think there was like a cutout leprechaun that got like taped on the board, you know? And, um, the, you know, the kids went nuts and they got back in the room and it was just so fun. And then the kids would be like, “oh my gosh, the leprechaun trashed our room!” And then they’ll help you clean it up, you know? Um, and so I kind of just continued that from I was in kindergarten. Um, but of course then with the pandemic, we couldn’t do it for the past couple of years. 

Background: LS has taught kindergarten in Athens, Georgia since 2015. She went to elementary school in a suburb of Athens in the 1990s. 

Context: This story was told to me over a phone call. Analysis: I also remember leprechauns visiting my classroom in elementary school. I was particularly interested in L’s story because she touches on the consumerism of the tradition. She talks about using Lucky Charms as a leprechaun trap, for example. Lucky Charms are not traditionally Irish, yet there’s an association between them and what’s considered an Irish holiday. Additionally, when I looked into the lore behind leprechaun traps, it seems that the idea has almost solely existed for elementary schools or other gatherings of children. 

Canadian Victoria Day Celebration

Context:

AS now lives in Seattle, but grew up in Blenheim, Ontario in Canada and remembers how people celebrated Victoria Day every May.

Main Piece:

“Our holiday in May is called Victoria Day instead of Memorial Day, and it’s very widely known as the May 2-4 Weekend because cases of beer come with 24, and it’s typically around the 24th of May. So it’s May 2-4 Weekend, everybody loses their minds, it’s generally warm enough that you can go camping. There’s tons of underage drinking which is saying something because the drinking age is pretty young in Canada anyway.”

Analysis:

This holiday tradition seems to parallel many American traditions as well. Holidays that are not associated largely with spending time with family tend to instead turn to drinking and partying instead. While Victoria Day is an institutionally enforced holiday, the extrapolation into the full May 2-4 Weekend and the subsequent packaging of 24-beer cases seems to have arisen from the folk. It is apt that a holiday weekend in May would generate such interest in Canada since Canada is a very cold country for the winter season and, like AS mentioned, May is when the weather starts heating up again. It seems like it goes hand in hand with other festivals of springtime, celebrating the end of the winter.

Harvest Festival in Chinese tradition

Context: My informant is a 26 year-old woman who is of Chinese descent. She grew up in Hong Kong and lived there until she moved to Pasadena at the age of 7. Listed below is an account of a Chinese holiday called “Harvest Festival”. She detailed her experience of the holiday growing up and where the story that surrounds the holiday comes from. She knows and loves these stories from personal experience.

Informant:

“There’s this thing called the ‘Harvest Festival’ which we celebrate on the harvest moon which is in September and basically there’s this tale behind it where earth had 10 suns, which was too hot, and this soldier would shoot down the 9 suns so there would only be one. The emperor then gave him an elixir that would make the soldier live forever, he said oh great, takes it home and marries the love of his life. He then went off to war and the wife, out of curiosity, drank the elixir and eventually became the moon. This was a curse so she couldn’t be with the love of her life. So now the story goes that he could never be with her since she is so far away but, on the day of the harvest moon, the moon is the closest to the earth so he can be with her. We light lanterns and they guide the way for him to see her. We eat mooncakes and walk around the street with paper lanterns on that day too.”

Thoughts:

I found this story beautifully mystical and extremely interesting. I was not familiar with any Chinese lore before talking to the informant about this and I am really excited to learn more. The symbol of the moon being eternal and also feminine is magical and I have always seen the moon in a more feminine light as well. I also find it fascinating that their holiday is centered around the moon. I am curious to know where this connection to the lunar calendar ties in. I would like to know where the lesson of the curse comes in. It might be connected to greed or not following one’s orders as the wife drank the elixir even though her husband said not to. I loved hearing the intricate beauty in this story and am excited to learn more about Chinese culture.

For another reference of this holiday, check here: 

https://www.chinahighlights.com/festivals/mid-autumn-festival.htm#:~:text=The%20common%20customs%20of%20the,displaying%20lanterns%2C%20and%20regional%20activities.

Setting Leprechaun Traps

SB: I did not have a lot of holiday traditions specifically, but what I did have was for St. Patrick’s Day, my parents were very excited in me believing in things, especially fantasy things, so they really pushed me into strongly believing in leprechauns. And so, every year me and my brother would get like boxes from like our Costco trips, or like, collect things around the house and make traps for the leprechauns, and they- the next day, they would leave us like a gold dollar coin, but it was just my mom, and so one day – I really believed in it – and so I brought this coin the next day to school to third grade and I told all of my friends that I captured a leprechaun but like it escaped but it left me gold and then they all made fun of me (laughs) but I still believed in the leprechauns for like a really long time.

VG: How long?

SB: Um, probably until I was like nine years old.

VG: That’s like…on the edge.

SB: Yeah, it was on the edge of a long time. I think it’s because everyone just kept telling me they were not real, and so I just like wanted to fit in, so I left my belief of leprechauns.

 

Background:

Location of story – Denver, CO

Location of Performance – SB’s dormitory room, Los Angeles, CA, night

 

Context: This performance was done just between SB and I in response to me asking if she had any urban legends, riddles, or holiday traditions. I am very close friends with SB. This story follows one about a conspiracy theory about the Denver airport being linked to Satan, a word riddle, and a CD of folk songs.

 

Analysis: This performance is notable for its detailed description of the “personalization” a traditional Irish folk creature. What I mean to say is that SB and her brother were able to adopt a folk creature and myth that is not traditionally their own by creating physical spaces based on how they imagined the creature. I think it is very interesting that this is the one holiday tradition SB chose to identity because St. Patrick’s Day is traditionally not as celebrated as Easter or Christmas. Moreover, leprechauns are not as actively believed in as the Easter Bunny or Santa Clause in my experience. I myself celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and have never heard of setting Leprechaun traps before. In addition to these observations, I also think this tradition demonstrates the strange social duality with belief in mythical creatures and beings. On one hand, kids can bond over shared believes, but as soon as one peer becomes a non-believer, their believing peer is seen as less mature or cool. Therefore, having one’s belief in mythical creatures challenged is now a rite of passage.