Tag Archives: mischief

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.

Halloween in Vancouver


“Probably wasn’t the best idea we had. We knew people did it all our lives, I guess just Halloween sorta sucked when you got older so you did other stuff.”

Informant states that teens in Vancouver wander around during Halloween causing trouble and being mischievous, very often to dangerous degrees. While he says people in America seem to be somewhat crazy on Halloween, it doesn’t compare to the tradition of teens in Vancouver. His friends and many other teens would go around with fireworks, firecrackers, and even M80s sometimes, causing a lot of trouble for people walking about during the holiday. They would shoot roman candles at one another and lob firecrackers over fences. He remembers this happening when he was a child, and his parents recall similar stories from their youth.



This rather dangerous tradition spanned 2-3 Halloweens for the informant, until they graduated high school. They never intended to deliberately harm anyone, but would often end up hurting one another. He doesn’t recall any particular reason for it, and it’s not something they would do on any day but Halloween. There wasn’t anything specific to Vancouver with the tradition, but he says being in a few different places for the holiday since, nothing compares to it.



While not rooted in any specific reasoning or location-specific motivation, this tradition is upheld for a decent amount of time in at least one area. It’s an opportunity to teens to be rowdy and dangerous for a night, likely when a lot of people are expecting it and watching out for it. Halloween seems to carry a lot of meanings for people depending on age group. He stated that the behavior they exhibited was pretty atypical for how his friends would behave through the rest of the year, but that they would be betraying a tradition if they didn’t act wild on the night of Halloween. Other people in the room, as he shared this information, made mention of a “Mischief Night”, which is similar but not typically fully associated with the night of Halloween.