Have you every wondered why leprechauns are always shown with red hair?
Ireland has one of the highest redhead populations in the world, but redheads are still the minority. So how did these leprechaun mascots get their red hair? This image of leprechauns being redheaded and being kitted out in green clothes from top to bottom, is actually a very modern interpretation of the creature. For centuries, he was described as being something quite different. Leprechauns were originally depicted a lot like garden gnomes: white or brown beards, red pointy hats, and neutral, nature-colored clothing. They were also said to only be a few inches tall.
Over time the leprechaun image was changed as a symbol of the Irish. Their clothes were made green and their hair red. Is it because there are a high number of redheads in Ireland? Or are the colors for the Irish flag? Maybe.
A lot of Irish find the stereotype of leprechauns, red hair, thatched cottages, and an Irish jig offensive. Red hair was often looked down upon by the Irish and English, partly because it was associated with the Danes and Vikings who invaded both countries around the 10th century. The myth of the fiery red temper was also exploited by the British, as they worked to subjugate the Irish and keep them tame.
As time progressed, Ireland was told as being a place covered in green hills, green fields and green everywhere. Green became the color of the nation, so the leprechaun characters appearances began to change. The leprechauns were now covered in green to showcase just how Irish he was. As for his hair, it reached its peak when one man decided to pay a tribute to his Irish roots and produce a major film about leprechauns. His name was Walt Disney, and the film is Darby O’Gill and The Little People. The rest really is history.
Today’s depiction of a leprechaun could actually be seen somewhat as a stereotype, but at the end of the day, let’s remember leprechauns are not real. They’re symbols of tradition and a special day in March we all love to celebrate: St. Patrick’s Day.
Rock it like a Redhead!