15 Lucky Things You Probably Didn't Know About Leprechauns

Like cats, leprechauns are often depicted as solitary creatures.
Like cats, leprechauns are often depicted as solitary creatures.
Enzo Nguyen@Tercer Ojo Photography/iStock via Getty Images

In America, the bearded sprites known as leprechauns have become synonymous with St. Patrick’s Day and Irish culture. Here are some lucky facts about Ireland’s mythical beings.

1. Leprechauns are fairies.

Although they might not match your initial idea of what a fairy is, leprechauns are considered a part of the family. Like other fairies, they’re small in size and prone to mischief. The miniature men are said to be descendants of Tuatha Dé Danann, a group of magical beings that served under the Gaelic goddess Danu. According to legend, this mythical group lived in Ireland long before humans inhabited the land.

2. There aren’t any female leprechauns.

As a way of explaining why there is no record of female leprechauns (and therefore no way to procreate in the traditional sense), some sources claim leprechauns are the unwanted children of the fairy community. As a result, leprechauns are described as grouchy, untrusting, and solitary creatures.

3. There’s a leprechaun colony in Portland, Oregon.

The world's smallest park doubles as a wee leprechaun habitat.mike krzeszak, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

After noticing a small circular hole in concrete where a light pole was meant to be, a journalist named Dick Fagan took it upon himself to make use of it. After adding flowers and a tiny sign that proclaimed it the “world’s smallest park,” Fagan began to write stories about the spot in a newspaper column. He detailed the adventures of a small leprechaun colony, led by a leader that only the journalist could see. The modest garden, called Mill Ends Park, became an official city park on St. Patrick’s Day in 1976. Over the years, contributors have added miniature additions like a swimming pool complete with a diving board.

4. Leprechaun means “small body.”

Leprechaun is believed to be a variation of the Middle Irish word, lūchorpān means small and corp means body.

5. Sometimes, leprechauns are red.

Although the little Irishmen are now synonymous with the color green, they weren’t always. Early accounts of leprechauns describe them as wearing red and sporting a variety of hats, often three-cornered.

6. Leprechauns have a troublesome cousin called the clurichaun.

Also sporting red is the rambunctious clurichaun, a mythical creature that shares many characteristics with the leprechaun. These beings are always described as drunk and surly. They are often seen in stories riding animals at night, or clearing out entire wine cellars. Some accounts explain these troublemakers as the night-form of leprechauns; after a hard day’s work, the bearded fairies get so tipsy they become an entirely different species. Other stories describe them as a close relative to the leprechaun.

7. Leprechauns are the bankers and cobblers of the fairy world.

For leprechauns, making shoes has proven to be a very lucrative career.MillefloreImages/iStock via Getty Images

Leprechauns are known for their money, and there’s apparently a lot of it in the cobbling business. Since they spend most of their time alone, the tiny green men pour all their energy into crafting shoes. They’re said to always have a hammer and shoe in hand. According to legend, you can hear them coming by the telltale tapping sound they make.

While some stories attribute the leprechauns’ wealth to the fine shoes they make, others say they protect the treasure of the entire fairy world. One tale says leprechauns act like bankers to make sure the frivolous fairies don’t spend all their gems at once.

8. Leprechauns are sneaky.

Wherever there are leprechauns, there are stories of people trying to steal their gold. The rule is, if you’re lucky enough to catch a leprechaun, you can never take your eyes off him or he’ll disappear. In one tale, a man managed to catch a leprechaun and forced the fairy to divulge the secret location of his treasure. The leprechaun reluctantly pointed to a tree. Delighted, the man tied a red bandana around the branch and ran home to get a shovel. When he returned, he was dismayed to find all the trees were sporting the same red scarf.

9. But leprechauns can be generous if you’re kind to them.

Constantly being chased for one’s gold—or cereal— can take a toll on any fairy’s demeanor. As a result, leprechauns are distrustful and secretive. This attitude doesn’t mean they won’t loosen the purse strings if touched by a bit of kindness. One legend mentions a down-on-his-luck nobleman who offered a leprechaun a ride on his horse. In return, the man returned to his crumbling castle to find it filled to the ceiling with gold.

10. Someone claims to have found the remains of an actual leprechaun.

Unfortunately, you're more likely to spot sheep than leprechauns on Slieve Foye.Eric Jones, Geograph // CC BY-SA 2.0

In 1989, a local businessman in Carlingford, Ireland, claimed to have found evidence of a real leprechaun on a mountain called Slieve Foye. He said that after hearing a scream near the wishing well, he found bones, a tiny suit, and gold coins near scorched earth. The evidence is now displayed behind a glass case for visitors to come see.

As a result, a new tradition was born: During an annual leprechaun hunt, 100 ceramic leprechauns are hidden on the mountain. Tourists come every year to try to hunt down the little green statues. Hunters need to buy a 6€ “hunter’s license” beforehand. In 2019—the 30th anniversary of the leprechaun bones’ discovery and the 10th anniversary of their official European Union recognition—fortune-seekers abandoned their mountain search and instead scoured the town for hidden leprechaun pots, one of which contained a real bar of gold valued at €1200.

11. Leprechauns are protected under European law.

Apparently, there are 236 leprechauns that still live in the caverns of Slieve Foye. In 2009, the EU granted heritage status to the remaining wee people; they now have their own protected sanctuary nestled in the mountain. The directive also protects the animals and flora in the area to help keep the biodiversity of the land safe.

12. Some accounts say leprechauns can live underwater.

Why swim with the fishes when you can swim with the leprechauns?Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The earliest known folktale to feature a leprechaun comes from the Middle Ages. In it, Fergus mac Léti, the King of Ulster, falls asleep by the beach. He awakens to find three lúchorpáin (“little bodies”) attempting to drag him into their undersea lair. The king captures them, but releases them after he is promised three wishes. This story suggests the mythical men are sea-dwellers, but modern takes on the myth do not often include this lifestyle detail.

13. Leprechauns might have a divine heritage.

Some sources say leprechauns are derivatives of the Irish deity Lugh, god of the Sun and of arts and crafts. After the rise of Christianity, Lugh’s importance was diminished, and he was demoted to a shoe-making folklore character known as Lugh Chromain.

14. You can pretend to be a leprechaun for a good cause.

In March, there are marathons all over the country that encourage the participants to dress like leprechauns. The festive runners help raise money for charity while getting in the St. Patrick’s Day spirit.

15. You can make your own leprechaun trap.

Shiny things and Pinterest-worthy crafting skills are allegedly all you’ll need to catch a leprechaun.Detry26/iStock via Getty Images

Making a leprechaun trap is a great activity to share with your children this St. Patrick’s Day. All you need to get started is something shiny to lure the little men. The traps can be simple as a shoebox, or elaborate as your family can imagine. Although no one has caught anything yet—that we know of—it doesn’t hurt to try!

Get Into the Halloween Spirit With Harry Potter and Star Wars Costumes and Accessories From Hot Topic

Hot Topic
Hot Topic

Halloween is fast approaching, and that means it's time to start picking up those decorations, planning your costume, and settling down for a few monster movie marathons. Hot Topic is already way ahead of you, with a selection of costumes and accessories based on fan-favorite movies and TV shows like Harry Potter, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Stranger Things, and Hocus Pocus. We've picked out some of our favorites for you to check out below.

Harry Potter

1. Beauxbatons Hat and Cape Uniform; $60

Hot Topic

If Fleur Delacour is your favorite character from the Triwizard Tournament, then this look is for you. Beauxbatons baby blue hat and cape can now be yours to prance around in and pretend you're from the magical French academy for young witches.

Buy it: Beauxbatons Hat, Beauxbatons Cape

2. Hogwarts Zip-Up Hoodie Cloak; $55

Hot Topic

One of the most iconic parts of the Hogwarts uniform is the cloak. The sweeping black robes looked so official and mystical in the movies that it almost seems wrong not to wear one if you want to be a Hogwarts student for Halloween. These hoodie cloaks are available in all four house colors.

Buy it: Hot Topic

3. Hogwarts Cardigan Sweater; $49

Hot Topic

Much like the cloak, the sweater vests and cardigans the students at Hogwarts got to wear are essential to any costume. You can choose from the four house crests and colors, so you can show your allegiance while also making a fashion statement.

Buy it: Hot Topic

4. Hogwarts Plaid Skirtall; $45

Hot Topic

Though this isn't a look you'd recognize from the Harry Potter movies, these plaid skirtalls—skirt overalls, basically—feature the crest and colors of whichever house you represent.

Buy it: Hot Topic

Star Wars

1. The Mandalorian Helmet; $17

Hot Topic

With the second season of The Mandalorian coming out right in time for Halloween, going as one of the show's main characters is a no-brainer. And since you probably can't pull off the Baby Yoda look, this simple Mando helmet is your best option.

Buy it: Hot Topic

2. Yoda Pet Costume; $20

Hot Topic

Baby Yoda is easily the cutest thing to emerge from the new Disney+ series, and there's no shortage of merchandise with that little green face plastered across it. From Amazon Echo Dots to slippers to LEGO sets, the little rascal is everywhere. But if you're more a fan of classic Yoda, you can impose your love of the character on your dog with this costume, complete with floppy green ears and tiny Jedi robe.

Buy it: Hot Topic

3. The Force Awakens Rey Costume; $48

Hot Topic

Rey represents a new generation of Star Wars hero, and her costume during her time on Jakku from The Force Awakens is still her most iconic look. It's also a costume that's simple enough to throw on for Halloween and still feel comfortable in.

Buy it: Hot Topic

4. R2-D2 with Pumpkin Decoration; $50

Hot Topic

When trick-or-treaters stop to collect candy from your house, greet them with this inflatable R2-D2 decoration that's primed for Halloween. Standing around 3 feet tall, this will show off your love for a galaxy far, far away and your holiday spirit.

Buy it: Hot Topic

The Nightmare Before Christmas

1. Sally Scrunchies Set; $10

Hot Topic

If you're looking to embrace your The Nightmare Before Christmas love in a more subtle way, opt for these Sally-approved scrunchies that embody the colors of the movie without going too far overboard.

Buy it: Hot Topic

2. Jack Skellington Button-Up Shirt; $35

Hot Topic

If Jack Skellington is your ultimate fashion hero, then this button-up pinstriped shirt is the ticket for you. It mimics Jack's look right down to the unique bat-shaped collar.

Buy it: Hot Topic

3. Jack and Sally 'Love is Eternal' Eyeshadow Palette; $17

Hot Topic

Makeup inspired by your favorite characters is the key to completing a Halloween look, and this palette will help you make a colorful, smokey eye featuring shades seen in The Nightmare Before Christmas. You can even use these colors long after Halloween is over once you've mastered your favorite style.

Buy it: Hot Topic

4. Zero Dog Costume; $29

Hot Topic

The real star of The Nightmare Before Christmas has to be the dog, Zero, and now you can drape your own pooch in the ghostly visage for under $30.

Buy it: Hop Topic

Other Categories

- Stranger Things
- Coraline
- Disney
- Haunted Mansion
- Hocus Pocus
- The Craft

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30 Offbeat Holidays to Celebrate In October

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October—the spookiest month of the year—is upon, and with it, a calendar full of offbeat holidays. Between your autumnal walks, horror movie marathons, and oh, National Cat Day on October 29 (which is basically the year's most important holiday here at Mental Floss), see if you can squeeze in a few of these unconventional celebrations.

1. October 1: World Vegetarian Day

It's easy enough to eat meat-free for a day, but this celebration is intended to kick off a month of vegetarian awareness and encourage more lasting change.

2. October 2: World Farm Animals Day

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This may seem at odds with World Vegetarian Day, until you consider that this is actually a day to protest the farm in farm animal and the cruel conditions it implies.

3. October 2: National Custodian Day

Because really, we should be celebrating them every day.

4. October 2: World Smile Day

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If the calendar says you have to do it, you have to do it.

5. October 4: Ten-Four Day

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The fourth day of the 10th month of the year is the day the world celebrates radio operators, to which we say, “Ten-Four.”

6. October 4: National Ships-In-Bottles Day

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Someone spent a lot of time making this art happen, so let's take a little time to appreciate it.

7. October 8: National Pierogi Day

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On this day in 1952, pierogies were first delivered to a grocery store in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, and we’ve been devouring them ever since.

8. October 10: National Handbag Day

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We carry them around, but in many ways, it’s the handbags that carry us.

9. October 10: National Cake Decorating Day

Making a boxed cake recipe and applying the frosting with a butter knife definitely counts.

10. October 11: Southern Food Heritage Day

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Sorry, but if you're not eating a plate of chicken and waffles like the one above (or something equally Southern) on October 11, you're doing it wrong.

11. October 14: International Top Spinning Day

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A good day to head to the toy store and take a spin.

12. October 15: National Grouch Day

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For those who love one, and those who are one.

13. October 15: Get Smart About Credit Day

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This American Bankers Association holiday is all about educating the public on credit—and if that stresses you out, you should probably be observing this quirky commemoration.

14. October 16: Dictionary Day

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October 16th is Noah Webster’s birthday, so take a break from your lackadaisical use of the English language, k?

15. October 17: Sweetest Day

Traditionally celebrated in the Midwest and Northeastern United States, Sweetest Day is a lot like Valentine's Day, which—depending on your outlook—is either a very good thing or a very bad thing.

16. October 19: Evaluate Your Life Day

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It’s time.

17. October 21: Hagfish Day

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These eel-shaped, slime-producing fish are fairly disgusting (seriously), but they're also kind of awesome. They have four hearts, have been around for hundreds of millions of years, and can feed through their skin. So while it might not be beautiful, the humble hagfish does deserve a little love and respect.

18. October 22: Smart Is Cool Day

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This is one that holiday that Mental Floss HQ can really get behind.

19. October 23: National Mole Day

Neither a tribute to the animal, nor a skin feature, nor an undercover spy, Mole Day honors Avogadro's Number, which is a basic measuring unit in chemistry.

20. October 23: Canning Day

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Nicolas Appert—the inventor of hermetically sealed food preservation and the "father of canning"—was born around this time circa 1750, and this day celebrates all things that come in jars. So, you know, put a lid on it.

21. October 25: Mother-in-Law Day

Unfortunately, this comes after National Forgiveness Day, so if you forget to give her a call it might be a long year before she forgives you.

22. October 26: National Mule Day

Now that you’ve celebrated moles, give a tip of the hat to mules—literal ones this time. On October 26, 1785, a pair of Spanish mules arrived in the U.S. as a gift from King Charles III. They’re said to have been the first mules bred in this country, by George Washington himself.

23. October 27: Cranky Co-workers Day

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Not that you have any of those ...

24. October 29: National Cat Day

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We know you don’t need a date in the calendar for this, but it makes your cat-filled Instagram feeds all that much more justified.

25. October 30: National Candy Corn Day

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Feel free to debate the merits of a holiday for this highly controversial, tricolored confection.

26. October 30: Checklists Day

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Put this one on your to-do list!

27. October 30: Create A Great Funeral Day

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Much of October is spent focused on ghouls and goblins, but this day is all about confronting the scariest thing of all: mortality. Between your apple orchard outings and haunted house trips, make sure you and your loved ones have a plan for after you've shuffled off this mortal coil. Happy October?

28. October 30: Haunted Refrigerator Night

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This offbeat holi-night is about exploring the darker corners and containers of your fridge. After all, we've all got some metaphorical skeletons lurking in there.

29. October 31: National Magic Day

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Halloween, shmalloween. This holiday is fittingly held on the anniversary of the death of Harry Houdini.

30. October 31: National Knock-Knock Jokes Day

There's no better time than the spookiest day of the year to tell some good (or bad) knock-knock jokes.