Tag Archives: leprechaun

St. Patrick’s Day Leprechaun Tradition


“My mom did something every St. Patrick’s Day when I was growing up. She would sneak into my room the night before, ransack it and put green streamers all around my room. She would write a note from the leprechauns on the mirror in green lipstick and then put green food dye and gold glitter in the toilet like they had used it and left the seat up.

“They were just mischievous little devils … I had a stuffed animal that I really loved, a toucan called birdy friend, and one year she tied up birdy friend with the streamers.”


GR is a 21 year-old college student from Portland, OR, currently living in Los Angeles. Her grandparents were Irish immigrants.

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated every year on the 17th of March. It is both a religious and cultural holiday celebrated by citizens of Ireland and Irish people, such as GR’s mom. Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, where nearly a third of the population believes in the existence of leprechauns.

While she can’t pinpoint the moment she stopped believing the leprechauns were real, GR said definitely believed it when she was really young.

GR said she definitely will continue the tradition if she has kids one day. “It’s just so fun and magical. It brings such joy and silliness and playfulness into your life. My mom helped me realize that, yes, magic is real but it’s something that we create ourselves.”

She even intended to recreate the tradition for her housemates at college this year, but the holiday fell during spring break.

“Something that I do really believe in is creating magic for other people.”


The annual celebration of St. Patrick’s Day falls very close to the spring equinox, an example of how folk traditions are embedded in the cycles of seasons.

This idea of cyclic time allows a repeated festival to pull together moments in time. As GR told me about her mother’s tradition of leprechauns wreaking havoc in her room, she was recalling not a singular event but a culmination of every year’s festivities, each year building upon the prior memories of the holiday.

Because festivals have a specific time and place, it was difficult for GR to continue this tradition once she moved away from home, despite her intention to do so.

An aspect of festival time is the idea of ritual inversion, a process by which social roles are reversed or subverted. On any other day, GR’s mom would not be trashing her child’s room; more likely she would be asking GR to pick up after herself. Inverting these norms is part of what signifies that it is a special day.

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.



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. 

Family tradition—Holidays

I talked to my neighbor in my apartment Greg, and asked if he had any traditions during holidays in his family. He told me about a tradition he does every year since he was young during St. Patrick’s Day.


Greg said that ever since he was young, “My family and I on St. Patrick’s Day will set up a leprechaun trap in our house and outside our lawn. It was something I did when I was younger but now I think we still do it to keep that feeling of being young in our family. Even when I am not home for the holiday my parents set up traps and send me photos.


Background Info: Greg’s family is part Irish, so he has always done a big celebration for St. Patrick’s Day. He says that this leprechaun trap is something he loved doing when he was little and now his family still does it for fun and to keep the tradition alive.


Context: Greg told me about this during dinner at our fraternity house on the topic of family holiday traditions. He also does a similar thing for Christmas (cookie as a trap to find Santa)


Analysis: I never really celebrated St. Patrick’s Day that much growing up so it was interesting to hear about this holiday tradition as well as other things that his family does for this March 17th event. I also thought it was funny and cool that his family still does this even though Greg and his brother are older now.

Mythical Creature


My grandma used to tell me a story about a leprechaun. If someone likes sinning or doing something bad, a leprechaun would appear and especially to girls. It would tie their hair behind the bed. And for boys it would tie their feet. It would go on until they would repent.

Carlos said that his grandmother would tell him stories often and this was one of the many she would share with him, especially when he was younger. Carlos thought this story was less about scaring him with evil leprechauns, and more about redemption and redeeming yourself.

It is interesting that Carlos used such a strong word as redemption in his reflection of his grandmother’s tale. This story about leprechauns may not overtly address religious themes or moral beliefs, but the story he shared did notably focus on the image of sinning children receiving their just rewards until they stopped doing so. Perhaps Carlos’s grandmother originally first heard this tale about leprechauns in a religious context or it may have emerged from a similar environment. I agree with Carlos that this tale is less about mischievous leprechauns and more about the transformation of the children whom the leprechaun binds. The leprechaun binds both girls and boys with their own bodies, which may reflect the moral bondage of sin or simply misbehaving that they must break free from. The leprechaun lets them go after they have repented, further highlighting the shift in the children’s moral character that takes place once they stop sinning and commence being good little boys and girls.