St. Patrick’s Day is fast approaching and I can already smell the corn-beef and cabbage–a St.Patrick’s Day must in our house. My hubby is half Irish, though with his fair skin and orange beard, he looks more like a giant leprechaun (he really hates it when I call him that *g*). I have always found it interesting that the four-leaf clover is a symbol synonymous for this Irish holiday. While the four-leaf clover is certainly a universal symbol for good luck, the true Irish clover, aka, the Shamrock, is a THREE-leaf clover. St. Patrick himself chose the shamrock specifically because of the three leaves, using the clover as a symbol of the Holy Trinity. I came across a Celtic gift site that had a some great facts on both shamrocks and four-leaf clovers.
The Shamrock: a 3-Leaf Clover, is Ireland’s most recognized National Symbol.
- In the 5th century when St. Patrick came to convert the Irish information on Christianity could only be spread across the realm from one storyteller, or seanchaí, pronounced shan-a-key to the other.
- In mind of this St. Patrick used to the Shamrock to explain the concept of the holy trinity – that God was composed of three entities – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – yet each entity was part of the other just like the shamrock has three leaves but a single stem.
- As St. Patrick continued to use the Shamrock in his conversion of the irish it grew, through story telling to be seen as a holy plant, just as he was seen as a holy man.
- It is for this reason that the Shamrock is worn on the St. Patrick’s day and all other special occasions to celebrate his work and to bring ‘a bit o’luck’ to the Irish and all their children wherever they may be.
- Before the arrival of the Christians to Ireland the plant was sacred to the Irish Druids because the three leaves formed a triad.
- The word shamrock comes from the Irish word seamróg or seamair óg, meaning “little clover”.
- The tradition of wearing Shamrock on Saint Patrick’s Day can be traced back to the early 1700s.
- For good luck, it’s usually included in the bouquet of an Irish bride, and also in the boutonniere of the groom.
- In the 19th century it became a symbol of rebellion and began to be strongly associated with Irish identity. Apparently anyone wearing it risked death by hanging. People even ate the shamrock in times of famine.
4-Leaf Clover and Luck:
- Druids held the 4 leaf clover in high esteem and considered them a sign of luck. In 1620, Sir John Melton wrote: “If a man walking in the fields find any four-leaved grass, he shall in a small while after find some good thing.
- According to Irish folklore, finding a stem of clover with 4 leaves will bring you good luck, but finding a clover stem with more than 4 leaves will not bring you even more luck.
- The mystique of the four leaf clover continues today, since finding a real four leaf clover is still a rare occurrence and omen of good luck.
- One leaf is for HOPE… The second for FAITH…The third for LOVE… And the fourth for LUCK!
As I kid, I spent a ton of time searching those clover patches in the grass for the elusive four-leaf clover. Being a person who believes you can’t have too much good luck, those lucky 3-leaf clovers can come in real handy!
So how about the rest of y’all? Ever found a four-leaf clover in those three-leaf clover patches? Any special St. Patrick’s Day traditions in your house?