Start thinking green! St. Patrick’s Day is coming up and we’re thinking about all the ways we can work green into our outfits so we don’t get pinched! Of course the simplest way to do that is to pin a shamrock to our shirts — they’re cute, classy and subtle. We only think about them once a year, but they’re so cute, we thought we’d try to get to know them a little better. Here are 5 fun facts about shamrocks.
Shamrocks and Clovers Shamrocks are young clovers. In fact, that’s where we get the word shamrock or seamair óg which means “young clover” in Gaelic. Basically, clovers are shamrocks in March and later in the year, as they grow and reach the reproductive stage, they flower. Ireland is the perfect climate for clovers because they can’t handle hot summers or cold winters — cool and wet weather is what makes them thrive.
Shamrocks As Plants There are many types of clovers and they’re very common. If you’re a dedicated gardener and you find them in your flower bed, you’ll likely pull it as it’s widely considered a weed. However, some farmers keep them in their fields intentionally as they help with fertilization.
The Great Shamrock Shortage In 2010, a severe winter caused a shortage of shamrocks. To remedy the supply shortage for St. Patrick’s Day, plants similar to shamrocks were used instead. However, Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen made sure to deliver a real shamrock to President Obama.
The Shamrock and St. Patrick St. Patrick was a 4th century Christian missionary. The shamrock has three leaves — St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity. It is now the most prominent symbol of St. Patrick’s Day as well as Ireland.
Drowning the Shamrock On St. Patrick’s Day, you drown your shamrock for good luck. According to Irish Culture and Customs, this is only to be done with the last drink of the evening, perhaps after your big Irish feast: take the shamrock you’ve been wearing, put it the glass of whatever you’re drinking (perhaps Guinness or Irish whiskey), make a toast, drink your drink and throw the soggy shamrock over your shoulder.
Now that you have a frame of reference for the honored shamrock, you can decorate with shamrocks and wear your young clover with pride and knowledge! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!