Why shamrocks are a symbol for St. Patrick’s Day

There’s plenty of green to be seen these days as we head into St. Patrick’s Day.

Green-clad leprechauns, minty milkshakes, and festive green streamers and garland are just some of the popular holiday traditions.

But as 6-year-old Jana R. from Hanover Park helped her mom tape shamrocks and pots of gold on her living room window, she wondered why shamrocks symbolize St. Patrick’s Day, and if they’re lucky like four-leaf clovers.

Many of us have seen shamrocks in March our whole lives without stopping to consider their origins, so for Jana and anyone else who’s curious, here’s the scoop on shamrocks.

What are they? Shamrocks are three-leaf clovers, the most common type of clover. In fact, the word “shamrock” comes from the Irish word “seamróg,” and means “young clover.”

The only difference between a shamrock and a four-leaf clover is … one leaf! But four-leaf clovers are so rare that only about one in 10,000 clovers have four leaves. So if you find one, you’re considered lucky.

Shamrocks symbolize St. Patrick’s Day because St. Patrick was a Christian missionary who used a clover to explain the Holy Trinity of Christianity, which is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

He said the three leaves stand for the three beings of God, and the stem shows how they are united into one. The shamrock became the symbol of St. Patrick, who later became the patron saint of Ireland.

In 1681, people started pinning a shamrock to their clothes as they celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, and the tradition is still carried on today — not only in Ireland, but worldwide.

And because shamrocks are green, people eventually started wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day.