Exploring the reality behind leprechauns


Graphic by Kenneth Shue

Leprechauns are often times associated with St. Patrick’s Day since they both possess history in Ireland.

Madeline Springer, Features Writer

If the winter gloom has finally gotten to you, you are in luck because St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner. Few people know the story of how the holiday came to be or why it is associated with the color green. Although chocolate coins and leprechaun traps are exciting, they do not exactly represent what the holiday originally celebrated. 

Many students are unaware of the true origins of St. Patrick’s Day.

“When I think of St. Patrick’s Day, I just think of green and leprechauns,” sophomore Charlie West said. “I know nothing about the history, but I do wear green so I don’t get pinched.”

St. Patrick’s Day celebrates none other than St. Patrick himself. According to History.com, he arrived in Ireland as a slave at 16 years old and aided in bringing Christianity to Ireland’s people. St. Patrick lived during the fifth century, with the holiday marking his death date of Mar. 17, A.D. 465.

In the United States, most individuals do not celebrate St. Patrick’s unless they have Irish heritage. Wearing a shirt that reads “Kiss me, I’m Irish” does not truly represent the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. The holiday is a break day during Lent, in which Christians replicate Jesus’ fasting when he resisted the devil’s temptations for 40 days. On St. Patrick’s Day, those who celebrate consume meat, dance and feast on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.

Some students who don’t partake in the holiday see it as pointless. 

“St. Patrick’s Day is stupid. Nobody does anything. As little kids we’d get gifts or candy, but nobody’s giving us anything now so it’s pointless,” freshman Josie Nguyen said.

However, America is home to millions of Irish immigrants who celebrate the holiday, many of whom have developed distinct traditions. One tradition consists of dying the Chicago River green. In 1962, city pollution-control workers used dyes to trace illegal sewage discharges. They realized the green dye would constitute a unique method of celebrating the holiday. Each year, 40 pounds of dye are poured into the river, painting it green for several hours.

As a result, Chicagoans’ childhood memories have been tainted green. 

“I used to live in Chicago, and I would see the river turn green when I was a kid,” freshman Jake Petralski said. “My dad told me that the leprechauns poisoned it while we were sleeping, so I used to be scared of it.”