Pixies And Saint Patrick's Day

Pixies are considered guardians of Nature as fairies, elfs and gnomes. They come from the Viking and Celtic mythology.
And have always been associated with witches, fairies, and druids, because they use them as spies because of their small size.

Following the tradition, their magic can't affect someone who carries a four-leaf clover, or an image of Saint Patrick.

The legend tells that Saint Patrick threw the pixies out of the house of God. In the 17th March, the day of Saint Patrick, it is said that the pixies and all the other magical beings come back from their hidden places to make pranks.
That's why in the day of Saint Patrick it's mandatory to carry a four-leaf clover, as it is a protection element against magic.

When Saint Patrick founded the first church in Ireland, he invited the Celts to convert to Christianism. The legend says that the Druids, worrying about loosing their power over people, invoked a legion of mischievous Pixies to complicate the life of Saint Patrick, so he leaves Ireland.

The tradition says that the pixies entered the church doing their pranks. But Saint Patrick faced the pixies and threw them out. The pixies were very upset and felt hurt for this offense, and they abandoned the church of Saint Patrick. They never could stand again his image or his name. So in the so called exorcisms of pixies, they use the image of Saint Patrick.

Following the mythology, pixies live amongst the flowers and forests. They differ from the gnomes in that pixies have magical powers. Many times, they are depicted as childlike figures.

It is said that the pixies approached human beings because they saw in them a source of fun for their pranks.

They are attributed the power of being invisible and imitate the voices of animals. It's also said that they have a very touchy and sensible personality, and are easily offended and can be very resentful. These mocking beings enjoy telling each other their dirty tricks, and laughing hearing them.

These legends of pixies have been a strongly inspirational in all kinds of artistic artworks. William Shakespeare or Goethe did small references to these small creatures in some of their books. In Faust, Lord Oberon married the fairy queen Lady Titania, who was in company of a little pixie. The Gimm brothers give the pixies a more pleasant personality, sometimes helping the humans.

But most of the times, pixies are described by the majority of legends as mocking beings, fun, curious, like eternal children.

-Emma Alvarez-

© 2008 by Emma Alvarez. Link to this post without copying the text.

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Steph said...

My grandmother was born in Dublin and passed down to my mother her tales of the Little People and the Sidhe. She in turn passed them down to me.

Being half-Irish, I will always believe in these earliest of inhabitants of the British Isles. In fact, my grandmother came from Pict stock; she was only 4'9, weighed about 90 pounds and wore a size 3 shoe (American). My own feet are very small, something my mother said proved my true Irish heritage.

Thank you for this entry, Emma. Every year I celebrate St. Patrick's Day by playing Celtic music and cooking a veritable feast of traditional Irish food, served on my Grandmother's china.

Steph said...

I'd like to add that I do not celebrate St.Patrick's Day by honoring him, but by honoring Celtic tradition.

Great post!

Emma Alvarez said...

Steph, I was born in the north of Spain (Asturias). The Celtic influence is very strong there. The food is very similar and the legends too. Out traditional music uses bagpipes. And the Irish landscape is very similar to Asturias.
How beautiful is what you've told me.
Thank you for sharing it.

José said...


I know the word "pixies" for long but I have to confess that although I have an idea about what elfs and leprechauns are, I wasn't aware of the meaning of pixies.
With this article I've learned one more thing.
And that's why this is a good blog.

Kind regards,



Ah ! I remember that in the early nineties there was a group called The Pixies. Do they still exist ?

Emma Alvarez said...

The other day I saw that there was some videos of the Pixies in YouTube but I don't know about this group.
And thank you very much Jose for your compliments.

natacha said...

the description of the pixies are right , in south of scandinavia we horner the pixies at christmas time , by giving them af sort of rice pudding because it is belived that if not given they will come to the house and do thier pranks wich can be quit nasty :D

Anonymous said...

Pretty cool stuff. I love your illustration. I thought Pixies was an alternative band prior this article.

Anonymous said...

And I thought Pixies is an 80's band... Love your illustration... Awesome stuff.

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