On March 17th, millions of people will celebrate St. Patrick's Day. It's a holiday that started in Ireland centuries ago before coming to the United States, and continues to be both a religious and cultural commemoration of Irish heritage. There are many traditions associated with St. Patrick's Day, so we caught up with a resident leprechaun to get the scoop on all things green.
Mac Kid: Why do we celebrate St. Patrick's Day?
Leprechaun: In Ireland, St. Patrick's Day is a holiday to remember the patron saint of Ireland. It's also a day where those who are Irish celebrate their rich heritage and culture. St. Patrick's Day celebrations were actually brought to America around 1737 by Irish soldiers fighting with the British Army. As a way to show their pride for their home country and to help them not to be homesick, they held a parade to find fellow Irish soldiers and connect with their roots. Today, Dublin, the capital of Ireland, has a huge St. Patrick's Day festival that features a parade, family carnivals, a treasure hunt, dance and theater, and more.
Mac Kid: Why is the color green associated with St. Patrick's Day?
Leprechaun: Green has been a part of Irish heritage for centuries. The country's flag includes a green stripe. Shamrocks, a national symbol of Ireland, are green. And a great portion of the country of Ireland is blanketed with beautiful green foliage. It just seems natural that green would be the color associated with the holiday!
Mac Kid: You mentioned shamrocks. Tell us a little more about these.
Leprechaun: Shamrocks are abundant in Ireland. Legend says that St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain Christianity to pagans because their three leaves represent the Trinity. It served as a great visual aid for him and quickly became associated with his work. In Ireland on St. Patrick's Day, people wear a small bunch of shamrocks on their jackets or caps.
Mac Kid: So, shamrocks have three leaves. What about the four-leaf clover?
Leprechaun: For every 10,000 three-leaf clovers (shamrocks), there is only one four-leaf clover. That makes the four-leaf clover hard to find. That's why it's supposed to bring you extra luck if you find one. Legend says the first leaf of a four-leaf clover is for hope, the second for faith, the third for love, and the fourth for luck!
Mac Kid: OK, last question. How did YOU become a part of the St. Patrick’s Day festivities?
Leprechaun: My fellow leprechauns and I are common characters in Irish mythology and folklore. We're thought to be similar to fairies. While our "day jobs" are as cobblers (shoemakers), we are known to cause a little mischief from time to time. We are very rich, hiding our gold in many secret places. And we'll never tell you where those hiding places are ... unless you catch one of us. Legend is you may find one of us and our pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.