ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Leprechauns: Darling Irish Faerie or Evil Sprites that Haunt Irish Basements?

Updated on February 13, 2014
Leprechaun's, while often seen as bright sprites, have an evil nature.
Leprechaun's, while often seen as bright sprites, have an evil nature. | Source

If you're interested in Irish Folklore for St. Patrick's Day or any day of the year, please stay tuned: I will soon be publishing a hub on the subject of Irish Faerie lore which will give a more in-depth explanation of the different types of Celtic Fae. This article should appear on or before February 28th, 2014.

Introduction

You do already know what a leprechaun is. Right? Throughout your life you've probably already seen them everywhere, from St. Patrick's Day decorations to your favorite childhood cereal (chocked with marshmallowy goodness!).

Actually, you probably only think you know what a leprechaun is. Americans have a fantastic way of warping almost anything into something more appealing. Disney in particular has taken classic fairytales and folklore and turned them into something beautiful. But what if the tales aren't beautiful to begin with?

Most of the stories that we know and love have been changed from their original form. Most of Grimm's Faerie Tales were, quite simply, grim. The happy endings we know aren't the proper endings to these stories, and the same is true of the Leprechaun legend.

Irish Folklore, in particular, is quite gruesome. The faeries that we know and love from Disney and other American adaptations of these stories are proving more and more false. The faeries of the Celtic countries of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Cornwall (now an English duchy) are terrifying and sometimes horrifying.

This article will be addressing Leprechauns specifically, but if you're looking for information on Irish Folklore (in a more general sense), you should look for an upcoming page on this account relating to the various different Faeries of Celtic lore.

A pair of Leprechauns.
A pair of Leprechauns. | Source
The Leprechaun Movie Franchise is considered one of the best Scary Movie Franchises of all time!
The Leprechaun Movie Franchise is considered one of the best Scary Movie Franchises of all time! | Source

The St. Patrick's Day Connection

Many Americans associate Leprechauns with St. Patrick's Day. People dress up as the sprites and speak of the "luck of the Irish." Leprechaun decorations, including garden gnomes as depicted on this page, start to appear in upcoming spring gardens on on hedges.

It seems that we associate these mythical creatures with Ireland, bypassing many other myths and legends of Irish (and general Celtic) folklore. Because of the association with Ireland, they've taken up prominence in American celebrations of anything Irish.

To a certain extent, this connection is understandable. Americans have come to associate St. Patrick and Ireland with luck (the luck o' the Irish, Lucky Charms, the Blarney Stone, etc), and because Leprechauns have come to be considered "lucky," we put two lucky things together.

Leprechauns, in folklore, aren't associated with luck, but instead with mischief and a genie-like ability to grant wishes -- if you find their pot of gold.

While the associations aren't altogether false -- these are an Irish mythological creature with powers -- it also has to be said that the connection between a genie-like creature and St. Patrick is unfair and one the Catholic saint would never have endorsed.

By all means, celebrate St. Patrick's day with Leprechaun Costumes and green beer if that's your way to enjoy the holiday! Just know the creatures you're celebrating.

Leprechaun / Leprechaun 2 / Leprechaun 3 / Leprechaun 4: In Space (4-Film Collection)
Leprechaun / Leprechaun 2 / Leprechaun 3 / Leprechaun 4: In Space (4-Film Collection)

This is the four-film DVD collection of Leprechaun Films, considered to be some of the best scary movies of all time.

 

Warning: This Leprechaun Movie Trailer is Scary!

The Leprechaun Movie

True to the legend of the leprechaun, the leprechaun in this movie series is hardly a bringer of good luck and great things for the people he encounters. Instead, he jealously searches for his pot of gold, killing anyone who gets in his way.

Contrary to our common vision of the happy-go-lucky sprite, the movie version of the leprechaun is of a creature who will kill anyone to protect his pot of gold. This is what the legend tells us, that these sprites will go to great lengths to protect their gold. If you find it, they will bargain their way to getting it back by offering to grant three wishes.

The Leprechaun movie is a St. Patrick's Day classic, and one enjoyed by many horror movie fans as part of their March lineup. If you are someone who enjoys scary movies or the real myths behind some of our more fanciful legends, then you should consider watching it this St. Patrick's Day, just for a thrill.

It will also give you a better understanding of where the Leprechaun legend started (though with some differences). Leprechauns aren't luck and wish-granting machines: They are jealous sprites who will do everything they can to protect their pots of gold.

Leprechaun costumes are popular for St. Patrick's Day.
Leprechaun costumes are popular for St. Patrick's Day. | Source

Do you dress as a leprechaun for St. Patrick's Day?

See results

Leprechaun Costumes for St. Patrick's Day

It could be said that dressing as a leprechaun for St. Patrick's Day is a bit macabre, considering that there are no reasonable connections between the saint himself and the mischievous and malevolent sprite.

Many people still choose to do so, however. If you want to dress as a leprechaun, more power to you! You'll find a great selection of costumes on Amazon, or you can check out my hub about Leprechaun Costumes.

Lucky Charms features a smiling Leprechaun. They are "magically delicious!"
Lucky Charms features a smiling Leprechaun. They are "magically delicious!" | Source

Lucky Charms: A Children's Cereal Featuring a Leprechaun

Lucky Charms is a children's cereal which features a smiling leprechaun who claims that Lucky Charms is "magically delicious!" He's known as "Lucky," or "Sir Charms" or "L.C." This implies that leprechauns are associated with luck. But why is this?

The commercial to the right is an older commercial featuring Lucky and the cereal that made him famous.

What Americans Think of When We Think "Leprechaun"

Apart from the obvious notes above, Americans have an entirely different view of the leprechaun than its traditional lore.

So what do we associate with leprechauns?

First of all, we think about luck. But why is this? What is the connection between luck and leprechauns?

Ireland is often associated with the shamrock, because St. Patrick used the shamrock to illustrate the Holy Trinity to the heathens of Ireland. Because Shamrocks and clovers are similar (if not the same -- this is unclear) plants as one another, the four-leafed clover has been associated with all things Irish.

For that reason, the shamrock is considered lucky (and Irish), and the leprechaun, also being Irish, takes on the lucky persona as well.

Leprechauns are believed to have a pot of gold at the end of their rainbow.
Leprechauns are believed to have a pot of gold at the end of their rainbow. | Source

The Rainbow and the Pot of Gold

A leprechaun hoards his gold and hides it away from anyone who might want to steal it. He is a jealous creature who will do anything to protect that pot of gold. Should you find it, he may give you three wishes.

It is believed that a leprechaun's pot of gold is hidden at the end of a rainbow, probably because no human can ever reach the end of a rainbow (have you ever tried?).

While part of this legend is original (the pot of gold the leprechaun hides), the original legends of leprechauns are more sinister than that.

St. Patrick's Day is Associated with Leprechauns

Every St. Patrick's Day, people dress up in green and celebrate Ireland. This used to be an almost entirely Irish-American tradition (little celebration in Ireland other than the religious holiday) but recently the celebration of St. Patrick's Day has evolved and spread throughout the world.

Some people dress up as leprechauns because St. Patrick's day makes them think of all things Irish, including the Irish sprites known as leprechauns. However inappropriate this association may be, it's a common one.

Which do you prefer?

See results

A Leprechaun is an Irish Sprite, or Faerie

So what's a leprechaun, really? A leprechaun is a type of Irish sprite, or faerie. Sometimes referred to as "elves," they are typical of the Celtic folklore fae, which is to say that they are in no way the pleasant creatures we think of.

Traditional Celtic faeries are frightening, the types of creatures parents would warn their children about. If a child wandered too far, the parents warned, they could be spirited away by faeries to the faerie knoll where they would be kept as slaves.

Like other types of Irish or Celtic faerie, leprechauns are dangerous, sinister and malevolent. Noctornal creatures, they only come out at night and haunt the basements of Irish homes.

If, however, you are lucky enough to find a leprechaun's pot of gold, they are something like a djinn, capable of granting you wishes in exchange for the return of their gold. They are also bound to their pot and should the pot be captured, the leprechaun is likewise.

© 2014 Becki Rizzuti

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • beckisgiftguides profile imageAUTHOR

      Becki Rizzuti 

      4 years ago from Indianapolis, Indiana

      Interesting, Shelley! I haven't studied African Folklore thoroughly at all. The last segment I'd gotten into was Australian, writing some fictional characters for a role playing game and playing with ideas from their folklore. I'll have to look into the African Legends. Thanks for sharing!

    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 

      4 years ago

      Wonderful, mythical creatures similar to the Tokoloshe the southern African people believe in. Their beds are raised on bricks or tins - so the Tokoloshe can run underneath and not over them.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)