The Symbol of St. Patrick’s Day: Shamrock or Four-leaf Clover?

Luckybudmall May 04, 2023


What is the difference between Shamrocks and Four-leaf Clovers

Before you venture off for your Ireland Vacation, or start stocking up for your St. Patrick’s day celebrations, take a good look at the symbol on your “Kiss Me I’m Irish!” pin. Does it have four leaves instead of three?

Knowing the difference between a shamrock and a four leaf clover could spare you the uncomfortable experience of having to explain your case of mistaken identity when it comes to the historical and traditional symbol of Ireland.

Like England’s Rose and Scotland’s thistle, the shamrock is an iconic symbol of Irish heritage and culture. It was utilized by St. Patrick as a symbol of Irish identity.

Any Saint Patrick’s day event anywhere in the world is incomplete without it. For example, people will use Shamrock Pattern Table Cloth to decorate their home to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

But although the use of the shamrock as Ireland’s national symbol dates back thousands of years, there appears to be a confusion about what constitutes the traditional shamrock; in particular, it appears to often be confused with the four-leafed clover.

The word shamrock comes from the Gaelic word Seamrog, meaning “little clover”. A clover is the commonly used name for any number of plants belonging to the genus Trifolium, meaning “having three leaves.”

Even among botanists, there is some disagreement on what species is the “true” shamrock, but most agree that the White Clover is probably the original shamrock of Irish symbolic heritage.

While trying to convert the Irish into Christians, St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the holy trinity with each leaf representing the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The three leaves of a shamrock are also said to stand for faith, hope and love. A fourth leaf is where we get the luck from. The four-leafed clover, or “lucky clover”, is an uncommon variation of the three-leafed clover, and widely considered to be a symbol of good luck.

Because they are a mutation, they are rare, and not found in the same abundance as the shamrock, and thus, considered lucky. The traditional Irish symbol of a shamrock does not include the fourth leaf.

So have you got the answer? The symbol of St. Patrick’s Day should be the Shamrock, a three-leaf clover, not a four-leaf clover.

Now, let’s find more detailed history and facts about St. Patrick’s Day.

What is St. Patricks Day 

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17th each year, it is the feast day of Ireland’s patron Saint Patrick. St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in Ireland and all over the world by people of Irish Heritage. It has become a celebration of Irish culture as well.

St. Patricks Day Facts

Patrick's Day is a time of great food, everybody's wearing green and it's a ton of fun. St. Patrick's Day is a holiday with rich history and deep meaning. 

St. Patrick's Day is celebrated in many different countries but is an official holiday in the Republic of Ireland, in Northern Ireland which is not a part of the Republic of Ireland but is just north of it and as part of the United Kingdom.

In the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador and in the Caribbean island of Montserrat, it is a really small Caribbean island that has a large Irish population which is why celebrating St. Patrick is so important that they made it an official holiday.

These are the places where it is an official holiday but as we said it is celebrating in a lot of different places, for example, while not an official holiday it is widely celebrated in the USA, and it is so fascinating that the first St Patrick’s Day parade was in New York in the 1760 that was so long ago that was before the United States of America was even a country.

How incredible is that when you see people and parades have been going on for St Patrick’s Day in the USA for hundreds of years and they go crazy for St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago too. Every year the Kelly River in Chicago is dyed green for St. Patrick’s Day. 

Speaking of green, green is the colour of St. Patrick’s Day, but it didn’t used to be that way, however, blue used to be St. Patrick’s color.

In 1798, during the Irish Rebellion people used green to symbolize their love of country, and made the green clover a national symbol. 

Ever since 1798 St. Patrick's Day has been all about the green. Also lovely green Leprechauns Gnomes Dolls for holiday decoration. 

Everyone seems to love wearing green when they celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

A common way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day is with green clovers, you can do a craft with green clovers, you can wear green clovers on your clothing, you control them, it is a great way to celebrate.

People also celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with great food. A traditional meal is corned beef, potatoes, carrots and cabbage all together a nice hearty meal. Lots of meat and lots of yummy vegetables. 

And it’s something that a lot of people like to eat as they celebrate the Irish heritage and St. Patrick's Day. 

But the clovers and corned beef aren't the only symbols associated with St. Patrick’s Day. 

There's also leprechauns. Leprechauns are a type of fairy that are found in Irish tales and stories, but they are not fairies like Tinkerbell, they look like little bearded men with a coat and hat. 

In these Irish tales and stories, they spend their time making and fixing shoes and have a pot of gold hidden at the end of the rainbow and in these Irish stories when a leprechaun is caught, he must grant wishes to become free again.

St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday with rich history and deep meaning, it is not just about the color green or clovers, or eating corned beef or about leprechauns.

The holiday is named after Saint Patrick who lived over 1,500 years ago. And he wasn't originally from Ireland, his story is a very dramatic one. When he was only 16 years old he was taken away from his home in Wales by Irish pirates. For 6 years he was away from home, before he escaped. 


The Detailed History of St. Patricks Day

Saint Patrick was actually born in Britain in 387 - during the time Britain was occupied by the Roman Empire. His parents named him Padraig. He came from a family of priests. 

One day, When he was about 16, he was kidnapped by raiders from Ireland. They took him back to Ireland as a slave, where he was forced to tend sheep. 

Though Patrick came from a Christian family, he found that there were no Christians in his new home. The people in Ireland practiced a different religion. Patrick was lonely, so he decided to pray. He spent a lot of time praying. 

When Patrick was about 20, he had a dream that he believed came from God. Based on his dream, he escaped from his captors and made it to the sea. There, he found a ship captain who agreed to take him back to Britain. 

When he arrived back in Britain, he was reunited with his family. He also decided that he wanted to be a priest, so he began to study. Patrick studied for many years. He became a priest, and was then made a bishop. He decided to return to Ireland to tell people there about what he believed.

Patrick worked in Ireland for 40 years, telling people about God. Some say that he converted all of Ireland to Christianity. It is said that by converting the Irish to Christianity, he drove the snakes from the Ireland.

One of the important symbols of St. Patrick’s Day is the shamrock, or three-leaf clover. Patrick used the shamrock to help people understand God. Patrick died on March 17th, 461, after spending many years helping people and sharing his beliefs all over Ireland. He died in the same place he had built his first church. 

Now this is what's amazing, instead of being angry at the people of Ireland for what happened, he actually had a heart for them, and he wanted to share his faith and his life with them.

So he went back to Ireland to be a blessing and he was able to help so many people in the country, that the country of Ireland was never the same. 

St. Patrick's Day is an amazing time to celebrate Irish culture and traditions, to tell stories about leprechauns, to eat corned beef and to turn the water of Chicago green. It's a holiday that honors the faith of a man who had a heart to bless and love the same people who mistreated him. 

And it teaches us this lesson: never let anything stop you from doing what is right.

Saint Patrick had every excuse not to do what he felt called to do, he was mistreated, he was taken away from his home, but he didn't let anything stop him, and you can live that kind of life too. 


Today, St. Patrick's Day is as much a celebration of Irish culture as a celebration of Patrick himself. People of Irish Heritage all over the world wear green clothes and shamrocks on March 17th. 

Many people also eat a traditional meal of corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, and soda bread. In Ireland, most people go to church in the morning.

In the United States, there are many people with Irish Heritage. Their ancestors moved to the US during the Irish potato famine. So there are many special celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day in the United States. 

Each year during St. Patrick's Day, the city of Chicago even dyes the Chicago River green! The fountain on the lawn of the White House gets dyed green too. And also there are parades.

Other symbols of Irish culture have also become associated with St. Patrick’s Day- like the leprechaun, which has been mentioned at the St. Patricks Day Facts part. It is said if you can catch a leprechaun, he has to give you his pot of gold!

Every year when you celebrate this Irish traditional holiday on March 17th, hope this article can remind you of all the actual symbols of St. Patrick’s Day.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!