Do you have the luck of the Irish? If not, that’s OK. You can still dance like them. What are we talking about? The jig, of course!

The jig is a joyful, lively dance traditionally performed by large groups of people at Irish celebrations. The word “jig” is of uncertain origin. Some believe it comes from the French word giguer, which means “to jump.” Others believe it comes from the Italian word giga, which refers to a folk dance to a short piece of music.

Any time the Irish gather together in large groups with music, a party atmosphere is likely to break out. Queue up some lively Irish music and it won’t be long before people are doing a jig. Jigs are characterized by lots of quick leg movements and heel stomping.

The jig has a long history. Some historians believe it began as a popular folk dance as far back as the 1500s. The earliest forms of the jig were probably performed to fiddle music. Early jig dancers would keep their upper body very rigid in order to allow those watching to concentrate on the quick, intricate footwork.

The fast footwork involved in the jig has led to the development of many other types of “step” dances throughout Ireland. Jig and Irish step dance competitions became popular and helped spread the jig to other countries, including Great Britain, France, and Spain.

Doing a jig will definitely give you a workout. Jigs are usually accompanied by fast-paced music. In addition, many jig competitions encourage dancers to improvise their own dance moves. The dancer who can outlast all the others is often crowned the champion.

The Irish jig has inspired similar dances in many countries around the world. For example, in the United States, clog dancing traces its roots back to the jig and other Irish folk dances.

33 Join the Discussion

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    • WOW, you were dancing at such a young age, Wonder Friend Gabrianna! HOW COOL! Happy St. Paddy’s Day to you too! We’re wearing our green today, indeed! You can enjoy another Wonder about St. Patrick right here: Wonder #165– Who Was St. Patrick? :)

      We hope the wind isn’t too bad at home, and you won’t be swept away by tomorrow’s Wonder! :)

  1. Wow I can’t do the jig at all! It’s funny I just thought does the jig have something to do with St. Patrick’s day. And I bet tomorrow’s wonder of the day will be something connected with wind or something that is special.

    • WOW, Wonder Friend Annie, we all learned something new about jigs today! It’s a great Wonder in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day! We think you’re right on target with tomorrow’s Wonder– it might blow you away! :)

  2. It is a dance and is it hard to do. I was very suprise that I uploaded a video in YouTube and I want to say that if it can be in a wonder question for the future. It is your plan. My sis once did the jig at home.

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Alvaro! Jigs are lots of fun and take a lot of practice to perform! It sounds like you and your sister have been WONDERing about jigs at home– we bet it’s been a lot of fun! Thank you for sharing your comment! :)

  3. Do people do jigs for Saint Patrick’s Day as a traditional dance????????????????? I think tomorrow’s wonder is going to be about shamrocks about how it brings good luck.

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Monique! What a great question! Lots of jigs are performed on St. Patrick’s Day, but the origin of the jig is still fuzzy! We know that there are competitions all over the world for step-dancing and jigs; they are called feis (pronounced “fesh”). We love your guess for tomorrow, thank you for visiting us today! :)

    • We believe in you, Wonder Friend Gabriel! Thanks for sharing your comment– we hope you’ll dance your heart out! :)

  4. As I saw the video and read this, I kept thinking of Niall [One Direction], my math teacher who did the jig in school and many other people who I know. Happy St.Patricks Day! :)

    • It sounds like you have a really cool math teacher, Wonder Friend Ashley! What a cool connection to our jig Wonder! We are having a SUPER St. Patrick’s Day– we’re wearing our green here at Wonderopolis! We Wonder if you have done a jig before? :)

  5. Hey. I was just WONDERing why some WONDEROPOLIS are short and some are along. Also who are the creaters of this site and who responds the our comments?

    • Great question, Wonder Friend Jana! We have more than 800 Wonders to share (we’re almost up to 900! PHEW!). Some of the Wonders in the very beginning are shorter, while the more recent Wonders are longer and full of information! We know that lots of awesome schools, students and teachers include Wonderopolis in their lessons and activities, so we try to provide as much information as we can from all the research we do. We love to share what we find!

      We have lots of Wonder Friends here at Wonderopolis, so we take turns reading and responding to the WONDERful comments we receive! We’re so lucky to have so many great Wonder Friends who share their thoughts, connections and guesses for the Wonders of the Day! :)

  6. I have danced for 6 years, (I’m 12 now) and it is really hard to do! But it gets easier with a lot of practice.

    • WOOHOO, we’re so happy to hear about your awesome dance experience! Jigs, step dancing, and other types of performance dance require lots of practice and hard work! We are so happy you’ve been keeping up with it, Charlie! We bet you’ll enjoy this dancing Wonder from a few weeks ago: Wonder #882– What is a Choreographer? :)

  7. Hey WONDEROPOLIS!!! I do Irish Dance, and it is my passion. I love it so much, but it is really tiring to do. I have won my state championshiop, so with alot of time and effort, you can do it as good as a pro, or get pretty close! (by the way,I am 12 like Charlie.) Bye Wonderopolis!

    • Hey Cindy, thanks for telling us all about your awesome Irish dancing successes! Congrats! :)

      It sounds like you and Charlie have a lot in common! Keep up the super work and continue to follow your heart– keep dancing! :)

  8. I do Irish dance and it is really fun. I am very Irish with red hair, and I was wondering how Wonderopolis began. I also wanted to know the creator of wonderopolis’ favorite wonder he and his team have done. Thanks!

    • Hey Gordan, it sounds like you’re a prime candidate for Irish dance! We are glad this Wonder made you smile! :)

      Wonderopolis began on October 4, 2010– that’s our birthday! We have lots of Wonder Friends here at Wonderopolis who Wonder, research and write! We even interview experts from time to time to make sure we’re providing the best information available! :) We have LOTS of Wonders to share– nearly 900 of them! You can check out our very first Wonder right here: Wonder #1– Why Are Flamingos Pink? :)

  9. That’s cool, about the Irish jig. I’m not Irish and I don’t know how to do the jig, but I take jazz dance, ballet and hip hop! Also, I have a question: Do you respond to everyone’s wonders? and How long does it usually take to have your wonder be published?

  10. HI again. One more question.(Please answer this one and the one on my other comment.) How come it says that I put the comment on at 10 pm, but it is only 7 pm? What time zone does wonderopolis run on?? :) ;) :-*

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend ACT! Thank you for sharing your comment– we’re doing a jig thanks to you! It sounds like you’re very involved in dance… from jazz, to ballet, to hip hop! How cool! :)

      We love when our Wonder Friends leave comments and we try to respond to everyone’s awesome questions, comments and ideas! It takes a while to go from nominated Wonder to Wonder of the Day®… usually a few months or so! We have lots of research, writing and editing to do before a Wonder can be shared on Wonderopolis! :)

      It looks like the difference between the two time zones is three hours! If it’s 7 p.m. where you are, and it’s 10 p.m. at Wonderopolis, it is because of a time zone difference! Wonderopolis time is Eastern Standard Time– you can learn about time zones right here!

      Wonder #121– Why Do We Have Different Time Zones? :)

  11. I’d love to be able to do that! But I’ve also wanted to do ballet my mother says I’m to old though… people older than 13 can do it!

  12. That was a awesome video. Their jig was amazing. Their costumes were cool!

    Thanks for the video I loved it!
    Have a wonderful day! bye

    • We’re so happy to hear our jig Wonder put a smile on your face, Tatianna! We look forward to WONDERing with you again soon, Tatianna! Have a super Sunday! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Can you do a jig?
  • Why is it called a jig?
  • Can you make up your own homemade jig?

Wonder Gallery

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Try It Out

Ready to dance a jig? Well, what are you waiting for? Get dancing! Find a dance partner or two and check out one of more of the following activities:

  • Before you try to dance a jig yourself, it might help to watch a few videos online to get the hang of what it’s all about. Here are a few videos you might enjoy:
  • Do you know how to jig? If not, it’s time to learn! Grab a friend or family member and jump online to check out How To Dance an Irish Jig. Follow the step-by-step instructions and give it a try. Make sure you find some lively Irish music to accompany your dance steps.
  • If you’re up for a challenge, create your own unique jig by modifying some of the basic dance steps you learned. You never know when you might be the next great Irish jig choreographer! If you can, take a video of yourself dancing a jig. Post it to Facebook to share with your Wonder Friends. We can’t wait to see how great you dance!

Still Wondering

Using ArtsEdge’s Discovering Russian Folk Dance lesson, children will learn the Russian folk dance “Troika.” Then, they will work in groups of three (the traditional grouping used in the “Troika”) to research Russian culture and history.

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day may blow you over!

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