Posted Mar 04, 2019
My kids and I love holidays. Every holiday. When other moms are groaning about Christmas displays going up in October or candy hearts taking over just after New Year's, we’re high-fiving. Woo hoo! Another holiday is almost here!
But to be honest, I hadn’t put a lot of effort into St. Patrick’s Day before my oldest was about 7-years-old. I hadn’t even thought about it, actually. Sure, I’d seen my friends’ Facebook photos of leprechaun traps, but it never occurred to me that I should do one myself.
Leave it to me to choose the absolute worst moment possible to start a new leprechaun trap tradition in our house. At 7:45 p.m. on March 16, 2015, I suddenly decided that we needed a leprechaun trap.
I was just finishing up the kids’ bedtime routines. They were actually going to get to bed on time for once. I halted the baths and the teeth brushing, slapped shut our bedtime story book, and declared, “We have to trap a leprechaun!”
My baffled children stared at me, perplexed. “What’s a leprechaun?”
“They’re sneaky little magical creatures. They come around every year on St. Patrick’s Day. If you put out a trap with a little bait, they might come in to your house searching for gold. And if you manage to trap them, you can take their gold!”
My 5-year-old daughter stared intently into my eyes. “You mean we could get gold?”
Her big sister wasn’t convinced that this was a super important task for this late in the evening. (Neither was her father, to be honest.) “Mom, do you really think someone’s going to bring gold to our house?”
“I don’t know,” I said, “but sometimes they bring candy too.”
“Candy?” mouthed my husband, who knew he’d get stuck running to the store.
For the kids, that sold it. We decided to get to work. The only problem was, we had zero time and even less craft supplies. How would we make a trap?
No problem. I propped up a laundry basket on a balloon. If the leprechaun walked through with his gold, he’d pop the balloon, and the basket would fall on him.
We didn’t catch the leprechaun, but he did drop some gold. Hershey’s Pot of Gold chocolates!
He also opened all of our kitchen cabinets, put our chairs on top of the table, and painted the kids’ fingernails gold while they slept!
Did I mention that my fourth child was born on March 18th that year? My labor started less than 24 hours after this leprechaun plan began, so I’m counting this lucky indeed.
In the ensuing years, our leprechaun traps became slightly more sophisticated. But only slightly. We decorate a shoe box and make signs saying “Gold here!” We never manage to catch him, though.
If you’d like to start your own leprechaun tradition, you can make it as easy or involved as you’d like. Here are a few suggestions.
St. Patrick’s Day Celebration Tips
1. The Leprechaun Story
Everyone’s heard of leprechauns, but do you know why families and elementary schools set out leprechaun traps every year? According to folklore, leprechauns are mischievous magical creatures. They are thought to have a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, and they peddle good luck.
Because they are known for getting into mischief, as the legend goes, they will steal or hide your things and play other tricks unless you trap them. And they come out on St. Patrick’s Day. As a bonus, if you trap one, he is required to give you three wishes in exchange for his freedom.
2. The Leprechaun Trap
About a week before St. Patrick’s Day, start planning your leprechaun trap with your kids. It can be super simple like my laundry basket-balloon set up; or it can be elaborate and creative. I’ve never been great at fancy crafts, so I tend to keep mine on the simple side. It’s really up to you! Check Pinterest for ideas if you’re stuck.
3. Silly Pranks
Of course, nobody ever actually captures a leprechaun. They’re just too sneaky! But if you ask my kids, the pranks are the best part of St. Patrick’s Day anyway.
Here are a few of the silly tricks our leprechaun has played on our family:
- Dying the toilet water and the milk green.
- Replacing our healthy cereal with Lucky Charms.
- Rearranging our furniture.
- Hiding our shoes in odd places. (Leprechauns love shoes!)
- Painting the kids’ fingernails and dying strands of their hair while they sleep. (Don’t worry, it was temporary dye!)
- Switching our dishes around so that they were all in the wrong cabinets.
- Turning our photos and paintings upside down.
- Moving the kids around so that they woke up in the wrong beds. (Our kids are VERY heavy sleepers!)
4. Drop Some Gold!
This is the sweet part! While the leprechaun runs around playing his tricks, he’s bound to drop a little gold. Ours usually comes in the form of Hershey’s Pot of Gold chocolates, but any candy with a gold or silver wrapper will do. (Think Rolos or chocolate coins.)
What are your favorite St. Patrick’s Day traditions? We love hearing from you!
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