Saturday, March 10, 2012

Leprechaun's are American

The cheerful, friendly leprechaun that most Americans associate with St. Patrick's Day is a purely American invention. Thanks to Walt Disney, who in 1959 released a movie called Darby O'Gill & the Little People, we were introduced to a very different type of leprechaun than the cantankerous little fellow of Irish folklore.

St. Patrick's Day, a Catholic holy day, had nothing to do with leprechaun's until this movie helped make belief in them more mainstream.

"Lobaircin" is the original Irish name for these figures in folklore meaning "small-bodied fellow". The belief in these little people more than likely stems from Celtic belief in fairies. Fairies are tiny men and women with magical powers that are used to serve either good or evil. In Celtic folklore leprechauns were cranky souls that are responsible for mending the other fairies shoes. Even though they were only minor figures in Celtic folklore the leprechaun was known for their trickery, which was often used to help protect their fabled treasures.

Since the release of Disney's movie the leprechaun has very quickly evolved into the cheerful little fellow that we know and love as one of the most recognized symbol's of St. Patrick's Day and Ireland.

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