If you’re like us and you enjoy decorating your mantel for every occasion, chances are you’re arranging images of leprechauns, shamrocks, and pots of gold right about now. This week we’ll look at the meaning of these familiar Saint Patrick’s Day symbols.
Our word “leprechaun” comes from the Gaelic word “lobaircin.” This small male fairy plays a big role in Irish beliefs. They usually look like little old men, work as shoemakers and indulge in mischief. Leprechauns are very rich but keep their treasure buried in crocks, possibly at the end of the rainbow. They have the gift of gab and cunning.
Shamrock, called Seamóg or Seamair Óg in Gaelic, is young clover that grows wild all over Ireland. The shamrock’s connection to Saint Patrick’s Day has religious significance. Supposedly Saint Patrick, who spread Christianity through Ireland in the 5th century, used the three leaves of the shamrock to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity. Nowadays Irish people use the shamrock as a symbol of national pride. In Ireland, it’s traditional to wear a shamrock on Saint Patrick’s Day.
The Color Green
Ireland, the Emerald Isle, boasts that it has 40 shades of green. Indeed, foliage in many shades of green covers this lush island. Green is Ireland’s national color. The Irish flag has three broad stripes – green for the Gaelic and Catholics, orange for Protestants, and white to symbolize peace between these Christian factions.
Celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day with a Fire
Now, those shamrocks, leprechauns, and little Irish flags on your mantel will have more meaning. Why not light a fire and sit in front of your hearth, toasting Irish heritage with mugs of green beer and singing a round of “Danny Boy?” On Saint Patrick’s Day, everybody wants to be Irish.
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!