Saint Patrick's History and Traditions
An Irish Holiday Celebrated Throughout Many Lands
Don't be forgetting that March 17th is St. Patrick's Day. There are a number of traditions that you are going to need to be aware of or you will find your little fanny pinched black and blue by those who are out to remind forgetful people like you.
Wear green, watch out for leprechauns and their mischief, and be keeping one eye out for a rainbow on this day for it is said that a pot of gold lies at the end of one.
Bars will generally serve green beer while many restaurants will serve green milkshakes and a sprig of green with your plate of food. In the United States and Canada we celebrate St. Patrick's day but we don't get paid to take the day off. Oh drat darn Leprechauns but St. Patrick's Day is not a statutory holiday in our countries although in Ireland it is.
An Irish Holiday Recognized by the Wearing of Green
St. Patrick's Day falls on March 17th each year and tradition dictates that you wear green on that date as it is a sign of respect to Saint Patrick. St. Patrick lived way back in the 4th century, and although he was of British ancestry, circumstances led him to Ireland where he spent his life teaching Christian principles to the Irish people.
Saint Patrick made it his life's work to convert the Irish to Christianity. One of the main highlights of his teaching was in his use of the three leaf shamrock flower to explain the Holy Trinity to those who he sought to convert. St Patrick used the shamrock's petals as a symbol representing the father, the son, and the holy spirit.
This is why the wearing of a shamrock, or clover, became a symbol of respect to St. Patrick and his teachings. Over time simply the wearing of green sufficed, and those who do not wear green on March 17th, are given painful pinches as a reminder to wear green in honor of St. Patrick.
So Why is the Shamrock Associated With St. Patrick's Day?
If you keep hearing the word shamrock associated with St. Patrick's day yet keep seeing a picture of clover instead, well that would be because the two are very closely related. Is there a difference between a shamrock and clover? Actually when it comes down to their significance to this Irish holiday they may even be one and the same.
The Irish word shamrock (seamrog) translates into young clover or little clover and considering that the shamrock is defined as being a three segmented leaf plant of the clover or sorrel family it sort of cements the deal. The shamrock is indeed a clover but which clover was the original St. Patrick's day plant remains a topic of much discussion with no resolved answer.
The Religious Significance of the Shamrock
Saint Patrick was a Bishop sent to Ireland to bring Christianity to the Irish people. He fulfilled this mission for almost 30 years and in this time became very popular with the people of Ireland.
St. Patrick made the Irish shamrock famous when he used its three segmented leaf to explain the Holy Trinity to his Irish followers.
The 3 segments of the shamrock's leaf were described as being the Father, the son, and the holy ghost. Each section separate yet joined together as one entity.
Many people took to wearing the shamrock pinned, tied, or tucked onto themselves and this became known as "The wearing of the green".
Saint Patrick died on March 17th 461 and many of his religious following remembered him by mourning his death on this date. But it was actually Irish immigrants to the United States who initiated the first St. Patrick's day celebrations on March 17th.
The Wearing of the Green by the Orthodox Celts
Ever Wonder Why There is a Leprechaun Involved?
The leprechaun is quite simply a symbol of Ireland who may have been slightly banished in importance with the coming of Christianity within Ireland. As such the leprechaun has become a light-hearted fun symbol of St. Patrick's Day.
With a human like appearance and being usually no more than 3 feet in height, the leprechaun is Ireland's fairy type creature. He dresses in a military type uniform which may be red, but is generally green, and usually wears a hat of matching colour which features a belt around it's base.
The leprechaun is a cobbler by trade. As cobblers were once in very high demand this is a trade which garnered a good income, and as leprechauns are rumoured to be a bit of a miser his earnings would have squirreled away to a hidden location for safe keeping. This thus leading to rumours of a leprechaun's pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Just in case you are not aware of the ownership rules to this pot of gold read on. It seems that the Irish are always looking to find that elusive pot of gold. If you are lucky enough to catch a leprechaun then he is obligated to reveal the location of his treasure to you, and if you can get to it before he, then you just may lay your hands on a good bit of spare pocket change.
Looking for a True Irish Shamrock?
Which species of clover provided the Irish shamrock leaf that Saint Patrick used to teach his followers is a mystery. Many people have tried to resolve this perplexity throughout the years.
The shamrock species used was edible but scientists as well as the Irish people are in disagreement as to which clover it actually was.
A poll taken indicated that the two most possible clovers are: Trifolium dubium known also as Lesser Clover or Trifolium repens also known as White Clover. It is Trifolium dubium which is most often sold in Ireland in association with St. Patrick's day. Good luck on finding a 4 leaf clover as there is only one that shows up in about every 10,000. To find one is truly a lucky find indeed.
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Clover for Luck?