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St Patrick's Day 2022: How do leprechauns earn their gold?

Yasmine Leung March 17, 2022
St Patrick's Day 2022: How do leprechauns earn their gold?
Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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17 March marks St Patrick’s Day, a celebration to honour the Irish patron saint credited with bringing Christianity to the country. Although leprechauns are a myth, the creature has become an icon for the festival, leading to questions such as: how do they earn their pot of gold?

Today is St Patrick’s Day (17 March), so it’s time to wear as much green clothing as you can and head to an Irish pub for a (green or black) pint.

When we think of St Paddy’s Day, leprechauns are the first thought for many. These creatures are depicted in popular culture as tiny bearded men wearing all green, black buckled shoes, long white socks and guarding a pot of gold.

But did you ever wonder where that pot of gold comes from? Do leprechauns earn it? Collect it? It’s…complicated.

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How do leprechauns earn their gold?

There are a couple of takes on how leprechauns earn their gold:

Shoemaking

The first is the old-fashioned method: they have a job. The name leprechaun is believed to derive from the Irish word, leath bhrogan, meaning shoemaker. Therefore, the tiny green creatures are known in some myths as cobblers, which is a pretty lucrative industry according to LiveScience.

Hunting

As they’re known to be mischievous tricksters, it’s no surprise that, according to a different set of myths, leprechauns earn their gold by finding and keeping buried treasure. There is one folk tale that links Viking hoards, usually obtained by looting and then buried, and leprechaun riches. The myth is usually set around the real-world Viking invasion of Ireland in 795 AD. Since leprechauns detest humans, the legend goes, they located treasure and reburied it for safe-keeping.

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How to get leprechaun gold

But forget how the leprechauns got their gold, how can you get “your” treasure back?

According to the same legends, the only way to get a leprechaun’s gold is to capture the leprechaun itself. You must know they’re notoriously hard to catch, so be warned!

Once you’ve caught your leprechaun, you’ll need to make him reveal where the end of the rainbow is, which is also the location of his treasure.

Report back to us if you find it this St Paddy’s Day!

If you can’t find real gold, you can always spend your money on liquid gold instead, aka beer, or on Irish boxty – traditional pancakes made using mashed potatoes and buttermilk.

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Yasmine is a third-year Anthropology and Media student at Goldsmiths University with a new obsession with League of Legends, despite being really bad. She's always on social media keeping on top of the latest news and trends and is HITC’s expert in Korean pop culture. She also loves music, TV and fashion - her favourite things to write about.