This weekend, while you’re pouring yourself a Guinness and toasting to Ireland, you will probably be wearing green, in honor of the Irish. And if you’re headed to a bar, you will find the iconic four-leafed clover everywhere you look. From banners across the bars, to logos on beers and decorations on T-shirts where flirtatious women might want men to look, they’re everywhere!
And the four-leafed clover grew to become a myth to not just represent St. Patrick’s Day but all of Ireland. ‘The luck of the Irish’ is tightly entwined with the belief that a four-leaf clover will bring you good luck, which is just an uncommon form of the three-leaf variety. The small, delicate little shamrock has become enmeshed with the Irish people, at least in myth and lore.
But where did it come from? When Saint Patrick traveled to Ireland in the fourth century, the story goes, he explained the Catholic religion and its belief in the Holy Trinity, using the three-leaf clover. That’s a neat story. It’s interesting, memorable, easy to share and plausible.
Now, no one can truly say if that really happened. Not many records have been kept that provide much insight into the life of St. Patrick. Yet, the Catholic church celebrated the day, and Irish immigrants throughout the Western world began to share the tradition, turning it into a day of recognition for the Irish culture. Not bad from just a little story of a three-leaf clover.
But that’s the power of a strong story that can turn an object into a symbol. It doesn’t need to be real, and it doesn’t have to be large, but it can grow to mean so much to so many.