Typical Symbols of St. Patrick's Day
St Patrick's Day Symbol: Shamrock
Why shamrock becomes a symbol of St. Patrick's Day? Partly because of Ireland's abundant coverage of clover plants, and largely because of the strong association with Christianity. Shamrock is used to visually illustrate the concept of the Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) when St. Patrick tries to convert polytheistic pagans to Christianity.
"A clover is one plant with three leaves, but the three leaves are necessary to make it [complete]," explains Prof. Mahony. "[In Christianity,] God is three persons, but it's not the same as three gods." The simple analogy helps non-Christians understand a fundamental element of the Christian religion, facilitating conversion.
Through retelling this story, shamrock became associated with St. Patrick and Ireland's conversion to Christianity. It is a widely used to commemorate Saint Patrick's Day, and in modern times has been appropriated by secular institutions as a symbol for the Irish.
St Patrick's Day Symbol: Four-Leaf Clover
Most clovers are with three leaves, while rare four-leaf clovers do exist. Finding a four-leaf clover is thought to bring one extreme luck. Different from Shamrock, four-leaf clovers have no religious allusions associated with St Patrick's Day. Each leaf of a four-leaf clover has a respective meaning as hope, faith, love, and happiness.
St Patrick's Day Symbol: Leprechauns
A leprechaun looks like a little old man and dresses like a shoemaker with a cocked hat and leather apron. Aloof and unfriendly, leprechauns live alone and pass the time by mending the shoes of Irish fairies.
According to St. Patrick's Day: Parades, Shamrocks, and Leprechauns by Elaine Landau, the legend is that the fairies pay the leprechauns for their work with golden coins, which the little people collect in large pots - the famous pots of gold often associated with leprechauns.
Listen closely for the sound of their hammer, and you might be able to capture one! If you do you can force him (with the threat of bodily violence) to reveal where he's hidden his treasure. Be careful! Do not take your eyes off him for if you do he will surely vanish and your hopes of finding his treasure will vanish with him.
St Patrick's Day Symbol: Green
Do you know why people all wear green on St Patrick's Day? The tradition is started by school children. Green is also the color of spring, the shamrock, and is related to hope and nature. Green used to be a color for flags of several revolutionary groups in Ireland.
What is more, Ireland has the name of "Emerald Isle" because of its lush natural greenery. Says Prof. Mahony, "One of the things that strikes people all the time is how Ireland is incredibly green–it's very far north, but it doesn't get frozen. When people say that ‘Ireland has 40 shades of green,' they are right!"
St Patrick's Day Tradition: The luck of the Irish
Will you be lucky this St. Patrick's Day? If you want, follow this advice:
Have a wonderful St Patrick's Day!