St. Patrick's Day - Folklore, Shamrocks and
By: Tippy & Alfred
The shamrock is the most popular symbol of the Irish. It
looks like a three-leaved clover. Shamrock is the English
name for its Gaelic name of seamrog. This dates back to
1707. St. Patrick is said to have been standing in a field
of shamrocks when he drove the snakes and toads away. Legend
says that, because the shamrock has three leaves but it
still one plant, St. Patrick used it to explain the Holy
Trinity to the Irish.
The three leaves of the shamrock are said to symbolize as follows:
One Leaf = Hope
One Leaf = Faith
One Leaf = Love
The first reference to someone's wearing a shamrock on the
lapel of a coat on Saint Feast Day was in 1681. In the late
eighteenth century, during the time of Grattan's Parliament,
the shamrock became an emblem of the Irish Volunteers. It
became so much a symbol of rebellion that Queen Victoria
would not allow the Irish regiments to wear it. During this
time, however, civilians wore green and red paper crosses.
Today in the UK it's no longer considered rebellious to wear
a shamrock. And, the Irish Guards of the British Army are
presented with a shamrock by the Royal Family on St.
There's a dear little plant that grows in our isle.
'Twas St. Patrick himself sure that set it.
And, the sun on his labor with pleasure did smile.
And, a tear from his eyes oft-times wet it.
It grows through the bog, through the brake, through the mireland.
And they call it the dear little Shamrock of Ireland!
St. Patrick's Day Parades
The first St. Patrick's Day parade was held in Boston,
Massachusetts, USA, in 1737. The potato famine of 1845-49
brought thousands of Irish immigrants to the United States,
so, they used St. Patrick's Day to express their pride in
their ethnic heritage with parades, banquets, pageants and
dancing. People wore green and wore shamrocks, and flew the
Irish flag with the harp.
In Ireland St. Patrick's Day is not nearly as rowdy. Many
stay home and watch the New York St. Patrick's Day parade on
TV. But in Ireland they don't drink green beer, or wear
green derbies, (an English invention), nor do they put green
carnations in their lapels, or as some people, choose to
wear the Scottish Thistle as an emblem.
The New York City St. Patrick's Day parade is the largest
and most celebrated in the world. It began in 1763 when a
small group of Irish settlers banded together and followed
each other from one tavern to the next. Such informal
marches became more organized after the Revolutionary War
when a veteran's group, "The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick,"
began advertising their ancestry on March 17. As more
immigrants poured into New York, the parade grew in size and
Today, St. Patrick's Day parades are held all over the
United States, since it's a US invention. They usually
feature marching bands, fife and drum corps and the wearing
of kilts. Popular Irish songs such as "Danny Boy" and
"Garryowen" are played. And green is the fashion color
In honor of the festivities we leave you with this Irish
blessing: May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that
grow and may trouble avoid you wherever you go!
Magic of Three
The number three has always been significant throughout
history. Some scholars feel that it goes way back to
creation: One man plus one woman made a third life, which
was miraculous. Romans had the three gods: Jupiter, Neptune
and Pluto who represented the heavens, seas, and the earth,
and to the Romans the rulers of the world. In Greek
mythology there were the three Fates and the three Muses.
The mathematician Pythagoras is said to have believed that
the number three equaled the beginning, the middle and the
end and was a number of completeness. The Catholic and
Orthodox churches make the sign of the cross as Father, Son
and Holy Ghost. So, it's not surprising that the Shamrock,
also with three leaves, is considered good luck.
All About The Holidays