"Mommy, how come the leprechaun doesn't visit our house?"
"I'm sorry, what leprechaun?"
"You know, for St. Patrick's Day. At school today, the leprechaun came and made a big mess and left green footprints everywhere. He goes to people's houses too and leaves footprints and gifts."
Before I even had children, I obsessed over how to deal with the Santa Claus question, what to tell my Jewish kids that wouldn't make them feel left out, but wouldn't lead them to tell others that Santa wasn't real. I'm also on record as being a firm believer in excuses to make holidays special. But mischevious leprechauns for St. Patrick's Day? What the what? Is this a thing now?
Apparently, yes. Across the country, classrooms and homes are becoming infested with leprechauns and St. Patrick's Day decorations take up almost as much space as Halloween decorations do in the fall. A quick search on Pinterest reveals tons of classroom and home-based craft ideas from leprechaun traps to Four Leaf Clover Cookies.
Although adult celebrations of St. Patrick's Day have been around for years, the parties are getting bigger. On GigMasters, we've seen an increase in lived bands booked for the holiday and events with more than 300 expected guests.
How long has this transformation into a major holiday taken? The holy day of St. Patrick's Day has been celebrated for centuries.It became a state holiday in Ireland in 1903, but for a while, there was actually a law that bars in Ireland be closed on St. Patrick's Day. It wasn't until the 1990s that Ireland began using the holiday as a tourist device. The day has actually been used to entire tourists in the U.S. for longer. Chicago began dying the famous Chicago River green over 40 years ago.
But where has this drive to have St. Patrick's Day rival Halloween as a full-out party day come from? Well obviously, some of it is commercial. Everyone from coffee importers to florists is looking for new marketing hooks.
Like Halloween and Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day has its roots in religion, which gives it a nice historical basis, but is not as overtly religious and holy as Easter. This helps it fill a formerly empty marketing spot in the early spring.
Clearly, St. Patrick's Day as a marketing device and party excuse is just getting started.