The word shamrock is derived from the Irish word ‘seamrog’, which means little clover. Shamrocks, more definitively, are the plant species Trifolium repensa. This plant is a three-leafed white clover that grows primarily in Ireland during the summer season. Shamrocks grow from bulbs and they bloom with a white flower. Shamrocks are classified as weeds, but like the thistle they are beloved weeds that symbolize a nation’s heritage. Shamrocks can be kept as houseplants, but should be trimmed back and stored in a cool dark place periodically because shamrocks need a dormant season to thrive indoors.
The number three holds much religious significance in multiple cultures, including that of the druids and the Catholics of Ireland. According to the druids the number three represented the balance of nature, and according to the Catholics it represents the trinity. Religious legend holds that St. Patrick used the shamrock to help illustrate the trinity, or the three spirits in one because the three leaves of the clover are three leaves in one leaf. And because of the little plants close resemblance to the Trinity Knot. The three-leafed clover also holds spiritual symbolism in Persia, where it is familiarily entitled the shamrakh.
Throughout it’s history the shamrock has been a strong national symbol of the Irish. It became an emblem of the IVF (Irish Volunteer Force) the Catholic underground, and other Irish nationalist groups. Queen Victoria banned the wearing of shamrocks in the 1800s due to their symbolic strength which helped unite Irish nationalist. Those caught wearing the emblem or charm could be punished in a number of ways up to and including hanging.
The shamrock is mentioned quite often in Irish music , like “The wearing of the green”, “The luck of the Irish” and “Clare’s Dragoons”. Mistakenly some people identify the shamrock as a four-leafed clover, this is because both are symbolic of good luck. No longer an emblem to unite rebels, the shamrock is now a beloved symbol of Irish pride and image of St. Patrick’s day festivities.