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The Best Icons St. Patty Has to Offer

Julia Moyer, Staff Writer

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   When you think about Saint Patrick’s Day, you might think of the festive, fun icons associated with this holiday. Shamrocks, leprechauns, pots of gold and rainbows all make this holiday on March 17 unique. But, where do these symbols originate from and how did they come to be associated with this holiday?

    Ireland’s national emblem, a shamrock, is a three leaf clover. According to the UK Metro News website, “The shamrock is associated with Ireland because Saint Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint, is said to have used the plant as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity of the father, the son, and the holy spirit.” The name, shamrock, originates from the word “seamrog,” which means “little clover” or “young clover.” The most common mistake people make about shamrocks, is that they think it is a four leaf clover, which is the sign of good luck. Not only do the number of petals differentiate these two clovers, but the four leaf clover is meant to represent luck and God’s grace (metro.co.uk).

   If you picture a leprechaun in your head, you might be seeing the happy-go-lucky one from the Lucky Charms cereal box. Sadly, that depiction of a leprechaun is not as accurate as we thought. According to a website about holidays, they are not very friendly; they are rather cranky and like to be left alone. The story of these little creatures comes from ancient Irish fables. The word, leprechaun, stems from the Irish word “luchorpan” which means “wee one.” Leprechauns are also known to look like  shoemakers, and because the name “luchorpan” was very much like an old Irish word meaning “one shoemaker,” they took on that appearance over the years. “Since shoemakers had a reputation for living alone, being crafty, and stashing their money, all of these characteristics came to be associated with leprechauns” (celebratingholidays.com).

   Speaking of money, there is a belief that a pot of gold awaits at the end of every rainbow. According to a website about Ireland, there is a myth that fairies would hide their pots of gold at the end of a vibrant rainbow. “This led to the fable that the end of a rainbow contained riches that could be found, and they would be guarded by leprechauns” (luckyireland.com). The folklore claims that if you catch a leprechaun, he would disclose the location of his riches in order to be released. This Irish legend has become a central symbol of Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations (celebratingholidays.com).

   These Irish symbols have made their way into US pop culture today. You can get festive wearing shamrock earrings or leprechaun hats. Not only do these icons show up in fashion, but also in the food industry. Indulging in a “Shamrock Shake” from McDonald’s and gold chocolate coins are a good way to get into the St. Paddy’s Day spirit.

   “The cute symbols of Saint Patrick’s Day are what make this holiday special to me,” said Senior Chelsea Petersen. “It’s always cool to learn about how certain things originated. I was definitely shocked to hear that Saint Patrick used shamrocks to teach the Holy Trinity,” she added.

   Now you know the whys behind many popular icons of Irish culture that are celebrated every March. So get your green shamrock on and try your luck catching a leprechaun — you just might fulfill your gold digging dreams. At the very least, you might see a spectacular rainbow while you’re at it. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.

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The Best Icons St. Patty Has to Offer