Making a rainbow pot of gold is a great activity to help celebrate your Irish heritage, especially around Saint Patrick's Day.
The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow isn't just a fairy tale or a symbol of greed. It's rooted in a real, historical story of Ireland, with a little magical twist.
Learn how the pot of gold and magical rainbows came to be associated with Ireland here.
Why is there a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow?
The idea of a pot of gold buried at the end of a rainbow did originate in the Emerald Isle, where the wet climate creates the perfect atmosphere for development of rainbows. It is a land of beautiful and frequently occuring rainbows, that are often celebrated in rainbow blessings and sayings.
Our legend begins with the Vikings, the Norse warriors who invaded Ireland from the 8th century through to 1014, when they were beaten at the Battle of Clontarf by Brian Boru, the High King of Ireland.
The Vikings were feared by the Irish, especailly the monks in the monasteries, who built round towers to watch out for the marauding invaders, and to store their treasures. But these Norsemen looted and plundered wherever they roamed. It is said the buried their treasure in different places all over the island of Ireland.
When they finally left Ireland some of their treasures were left behind. Cunning little leprechauns, fiery folk and fictitious creatures from Irish folklore, found that gold and decided to keep it for themselves.
They buried their gold at the end of the rainbow so that no human would ever be able to find it.
But there is no real end of the rainbow. These colorful arcs form in the sky when sun light reflects through raindrops high in the atmosphere. The closer we move towards them, the more they seem to move away from us.
There actually is no end to a rainbow according to science since they are an illusion. This has led to many a frustrated treasure seeker over the centuries.
Leprechauns with Red Beards Found Hanging on Carrots
Old Irish legends claim that if you catch a leprechaun he is obliged to reveal where his pot of gold is hidden.
But do not think this will be an easy task. The leprechaun is a wily fellow, with more than a bit of cunning, full of fairy magic and far smarter than most. If you have a lot of luck then you might just be fortunate enough to catch a wee Irish fairy cobbler.
An old Irish tale tells of how a married couple were tricked into looking for leprechaun gold at the ever-elusive end of the rainbow.
A couple of poor farmers in Ireland were digging up some carrots in their garden when they pulled up one of the roots, only to find a leprechaun dangling on the end of their last carrot. Now the magical rule of leprechaun trapping, is that if you catch one, he is obliged to grant you a wish in exchange for his freedom.
Now this greedy couple could not settle on just one single wish, so they starting asking for all kinds of things from a new house, to new tools for their fields and even brand new golden jewelry.
The little fairy man was so taken aback by their endless greed, he told them they could have all that they wished for if the found his pot at the end of the rainbow.
The two foolish people dreamed of cauldrons of gold coins and fell for the leprechaun's deception and dreams of his fictitious fortune. They never found their potof gold and wasted their time and resources searching for what did not exist.
Bringing Irish Rainbow Legends To America
When the Irish emigrated en masse to the United States in the middle of the 19th century after the Great Irish famine they brought many Irish myths and legends with them, including Halloween.
The Irish myth of how leprechans hide their gold at the end of a rainbow, is the legend that has truly been adopted and embraced by Americans, especially Irish Americans.
Around Saint Patrick's Day images of red bearded tricksters with funny top hats sliding down rainbow into black pots of shiny gold coins are seen all over the United States, on advertising posters, in magazines, and on television.
How did this story make its way all the way across the pond to America and survive to this very day becoming part of American culture?
The answer lies in the moral of the leprechaun's story. The Irish fable surrounding greedy leprechauns hiding gold at the rainbow's end is truly a cautionary tale. Irish people took this legend to heart, understanding that you cannot rely on greed, magic and luck to find your fortune.
Wasting precious time searching for illusive treasure never leads to financial stability. In fact wasting time and energy can be a recipe for disaster. When the Irish arrived in American in the 19th century they came in search of their fortunes.
The brave souls that arrived in the Land of Opporunity from Ireland knew that the streets were not paved with gold. They held a firm belief in the need for hard work to find their fortune.
Their pots of gold were only found through their own merit and hard labor.
They were wary of the red-haired fairies' promise of false fortune, and achieved their own success by laying the railway lines that linked the east and west coasts of America, and building the infrastructure that made America great.
Through strategic moves, political know-how and plain hard work, the Irish found success in the land of opportunity that is America.
Create Your Own Pot of Gold Rainbow Craft
Here you'll find all the directions you need for this pot of gold paper craft. It's pefect for helping little ones develop their creativity and fine motor skills.
You can share the stories of the origin of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the story of leprechauns, and celebrate the Irish legacy in America as you make this craft with little ones.
You can save and print the template for cutting out the pattern pieces, plus there's a tutorial page for printing included.
List of Supplies
Here's a list of the craft supplies you'll need.
- Colored craft papers or construction paper
- White embossed paper
- Craft foam sheet
- Golden glitter paper
- Craft glue
Instructions for a Pot of Gold Rainbow Paper Craft
Select craft papers in different colors for the rainbow, black or gray for the pot, and green for the shamrock pattern.
Print the pattern template, and cut them out. Use these shapes to trace the patterns onto the papers.
Trace the cloud patterns on the white embossed paper and the coins on the golden glitter paper.
Cut out 2 small pieces of sticky craft foam. Cut a slit along the yellow line of the pot pattern.
Take the largest rainbow arc and stick the 2nd largest rainbow arc on the largest one. Align each layer along their straight sides.
Stick the next smallest layer each time until reaching the very last one.
Choose a piece of paper for the background in the color of your choice. Stick the paper rainbow on the middle of the background paper. It's best to place the rainbow near the top side of the paper to keep space for the pot of gold on the bottom side of the paper.
Attach the small craft sticky foam pieces on the backside of the cloud patterns. Stick the large cloud on one side of the rainbow, near the bottom end. Stick the small cloud on the top of the large cloud.
Use a sharpie to trace the outline on the pot cutout.
Stick the cutout on the bottom side of the rainbow pattern. Keep the slit part free from glue.
Insert golden glitter coins inside the pot through the slit. Stick 1 or 2 green shamrocks to the craft.
And that's how simple these pot of gold decorations are to make - a little piece of Irish folklore for kids to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day.
Plus this craft can be used to make a lovely greeting card for Saint Patrick's Day.
You can save and print the template and tutorial for this paper rainbow craft here.
Happy crafting as you celebrate Irish heritage this March.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom
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