Tag Archives: sprites

St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, oddlings. I woke early this morning to find Bubo dying rodent bones green. (She takes most holidays as an excuse to show off her predatory skills.) Mordecai and I will be playing our bagpipes on the Widow’s Walk; we have some duets planned and might even do a bit of “dueling bagpipes” should the whiskey take hold. We don’t drink green beer in this house – with all the experiments we have going on, drinking a glass of something green could be lethal.

We’re also not wearing anything green nor are we pinching each other for NOT wearing green. This tradition began in the 1700s; common thought was that wearing green would make the wearer invisible to leprechauns. If one was visible to leprechauns, leprechauns would pinch – and in some cases steal – that person! Pinching someone not decked out in green became a way to warn each other of leprechauns and their wily ways.

Speaking of leprechauns – watch out for those fellows. While the Americanized version is a happy-go-lucky little sprite (you may thank Disney and the movie Darby O’Gill and The Little People for that), Irish folklore has it that leprechauns are actually not that friendly. They’re solitary creatures, spending their days cobbling and being frugal. They’re anti-social and have a penchant for rather nasty tricks. They apparently carry one magic coin that always returns to their purse once it’s spent and one dummy coin that turns into a rock when the leprechaun has given it away. Yes, they’ve got pots of gold, and yes, they do have a sparkle in their eyes. But are they worth the trouble? Perhaps finding a shamrock is better for one’s health.

The shamrock, of course, is NOT a four-leaf clover, but is a three-leaf clover. St. Patrick apparently used the three-leaf shamrock to illustrate the Christian teaching of the Holy Trinity. St. Patrick was lucky when it came to the Shamrock. It was easily adopted by the ancient Irish perhaps because it was already considered sacred in the country’s pre-Christian days, representing rebirth and eternal life. Three was also considered a sacred number in the pagan religion and there were a number of Triple Goddesses in ancient Ireland like Brigid, Ériu, and the Morrigan.

Slainté, my dears.

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