Leprechauns are often associated with St. Patrick's Day, but they actually have little relation to the Catholic saint. St. Patrick struggled to bring Christianity to largely pagan fifth century Ireland. Leprechauns, meanwhile, are elfin creatures of Irish folklore.

According to this lore, leprechauns live in rural areas, often near fairy forts. They are shoemakers, and usually old men. They are rarely taller than three feet (91 cm), often have beards and always smoke a pipe. Traditional leprechauns wear a leather work apron, woolen coat and silver-buckled shoes. The bright green coats seen in many illustrations are a modern innovation.

These elusive elves are famed for knowing the location of a buried treasure. They will reveal their secret if caught, but not easily. Leprechauns love practical jokes and will try to trick their captors into releasing them without revealing the location of the treasure.

For example, legend has it that a farmer once caught a leprechaun and forced him to disclose where a treasure was. The farmer used a red bandana to mark the ragwort plant under which the leprechaun said the treasure was buried. The farmer released the leprechaun and left to get his shovel. When he returned, every weed in the field had been tied with a red bandana.

Leprechauns at their most mischievous are called cluricauns. These hedonistic and often drunk elves will raid storehouses and cellars for their feasts and harness sheep, goats or dogs to ride wildly through the moonlight!

We at E-Cards hope that if you find a leprechaun this holiday you won't be misled by his tricky ways!