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Monday, February 16, 2009

Legend of the Shamrock

About the Irish Shamrock Symbol:

This beautiful 3 leaved clover looks like three hearts joined by one stem. St. Patrick, a Christian missionary, used this plant as a symbol in his teachings for an analogy of the holy trinity. At the time, the Irish Celtic folks were lovers of nature with many pagan gods. How could one god be more powerful? By using nature and the trinity symbol, he showed how the three could be seen as one powerful force. St. Patrick later became Ireland's patron saint. Since his death on March 17th in the mid 5th century, the shamrock has been associated with the inner spirit and joys of the wonderful Irish people and their Emerald Isle. And luck, of course. Even before St. Patrick, the shamrock was a symbol of luck by allowing in only the good. The Irish have many rich and charming creatures living in their country such as the little men leprechaun fairies.

This lovely symbol of the Irish shamrock clover is seen all over America every March and brings forth springtime, happy blessings, lucky surprises and the green green GREEN. I always associate it with the fresh green color on the new growth of spring shoots. American kids have made fun interactive games in school where if you are not wearing some green, watch out, you will get pinched!

The first St. Patrick day celebration in the United States was in 1756 in New York City at the Crown and Thistle. While the Irish Shamrock symbol is used in Ireland, the thistle symbol represents Scotland and the rose is the emblem of Britain. The Irish shamrock symbol is used by the Irish tourism board and on their national airline, but another earlier symbol, the harp, is used in Ireland for coins or in government.

A shamrock is said to be any 3 lobed leaf plant. The Irish shamrock is thought to have originally been the common white clover that grows throughout Europe and the world. It is a charming little plant called Trifolium repens in the leguminosa family which makes a white flower blossom that bees love. Clover honey is a delicious variety made from these shamrock (clover) plants. Clover is used as a cover crop to replenish spent soils. Like alfalfa, their roots go very deep to help break up and aerate hard clay packed earth. Clover sprouts (the red clover variety) are delicious and sold as seeds ready to sprout or already sprouted to eat. Another plant grown from bulbs resembling the 3 lobed shamrock heart leaves is called Wood Sorrel (Oxalis acetosella). Still another oxalis plant is called the "Lucky Shamrock" (Oxalis deppei) because it has all 4 leaf clover leaves. With the original Irish shamrock, the 4 leaf clovers are rare, so if you find one, you are very lucky.

In Irish the word seamra means clover and og means young. Together they mean young clover and the word pronunciation sounds like "shom-ruh-og" which became Americanized into our word: shamrock.

1 comment:

Carol said...

what a great article. Either you are Irish or you just love to look things up. I appreciate the info. Have a great day. God Bless