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17th March, 2014 Comments are closed

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!



Why do we associate shamrocks with Saint Patrick ’s Day, and why do we call them shamrocks?

Just as roses serve as a symbol of love on Saint Valentine’s Day, the shamrock has been associated with Saint Patrick’s Day due to the missionary himself, Saint Patrick, using it as a symbol of the holy trinity: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  This representation of the trinity, via the 3 separate leaves, distinguishes a shamrock, from a four-leaf clover.

But why call it a shamrock, when botanists simply recognize it as a clover?

The term “shamrock” is derived from the Irish word, seamrog, meaning “little clover”. The problem lies in which clover is the “shamrock”.  As there are several 3-leaf clovers in existence in Ireland, Irish botanists cannot agree on which of the 4, well-known 3-leaf clovers constitutes a shamrock. For now, we will have to go with the majority who argue a shamrock is a lesser trefoil or hop clover (Trifolium dubium).

While the botanists spend their time arguing about clovers, we can all pretend to be Irish on March 17th, and enjoy a green beer in honor of the luck o’ the Irish.