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An Irish Blessing for St. Patrick’s Day

For each petal on the shamrock.

This brings a wish your way

Good health, good luck, and happiness

For today and every day.

Shamrocks are a symbol of good luck for the Irish, and what many people don’t realize is that the shamrock that conveys good fortune is a three-leafed clover (not a four-leafed clover). This diminutive plant with three heart-shaped leaves has mystical properties. The Druids believed that it could drive away evil spirits. Irish children believed that they could see fairies among the shamrocks.

There are many varieties of clover, which belong to the genus “trifolium” or “trefoil”, meaning it has three leaves. Shamrock is from the Gaelic word “seamrog” which means “little clover” or “young clover”.

Clover grows easily and abundantly over Ireland’s verdant hillsides. It is by virtue of its abundance that is said to bring good fortune. It is a good source of nutrition for livestock and (if prepared properly) even for humans. Clover also is said to have many medicinal properties. Surprisingly, testing in the 1980’s found it to contain traces of naturally occurring morphine, which shows up in the milk of cows who eat it.

In ancient times the clover plant was revered by the Celts; three was a sacred number to them. This is reflected in much of their artwork, as in the underlying design of the Celtic Knot. The shamrock was also sacred to the ancient Iranians, who called it “shamrakh”.  The symbolism of the three leaves of the shamrock are linked with the iconic symbol of three hares in circular rotation. This motif appears as early as 600 AD in cave paintings in the Mogao Caves in China, thought to be a symbol of fertility or rebirth, and appears subsequently to illustrate other spiritual concepts in Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. In these images each hare shares one ear with the next so that only three ears are visible.

In an ancient German riddle it is described:

Three hares sharing three ears,

Yet every one of them has two

It is fascinating that over so many centuries the shamrock has symbolized the mystical significance of the number 3  while representing so many diverse religions and belief systems. St. Patrick popularized the shamrock in Irish myth as a symbol of the holy trinity: the father, the son, and the holy ghost, or alternately, faith, hope, and love.

Editorial credit: Thoom / Shutterstock.com

Although the official national symbol of Ireland is the 12-stringed harp, the shamrock has become the symbol most associated with Ireland, and its image was registered as a trademark by the Irish government. The shamrock is used by many organizations as an emblem to represent their association with Ireland. It even appears is the lower right quadrant of the flag of Montreal, Canada; the Irish are a major ethnic group in Montreal.

The idiom, “to be in clover” means to be living in prosperity and comfort:

May your blessings outnumber

The Shamrocks that grow.

And may trouble avoid you

Wherever you go. (Source)

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