What is a shamrock and what does it have to do with St. Patrick's Day?

Published: Wednesday, March 07, 2018 @ 10:31 PM
Updated: Wednesday, March 07, 2018 @ 10:31 PM

The History Of St. Patrick’s Day

The shamrock is the most iconic symbol of St. Patrick’s Day, but what do you really know about the three-leafed plant you’ll probably see adorned on all things green on March 17?

>> St. Patrick's Day 2017: How did it get started; why corned beef and cabbage; who is Patrick?

What is the shamrock?

(Getty Images/Paul McErlane/Getty Images)

Merriam-Webster defines a shamrock as “a small plant with three leaves on each stem that is the national symbol of Ireland”—not to be confused with the lucky four-leaf clover.

The yellow-flowered Old World clover, according to the dictionary, is often regarded as the “true” shamrock.

History of the shamrock

An acolyte burns incense during the procession prior to Mass on Sunday, March 11, 2017 during the Celtic Cross Ceremony at the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Savannah, Ga. Many things have changed in the nearly two centuries since Georgia's oldest city held its inaugural St. Patrick's Day parade in 1824. Now thousands of tourists from across the U.S. flock to Savannah every March 17 for a sprawling street party that may be the South's largest celebration between Mardi Gras and Spring Break. Still, many of Savannah's Irish descendants maintain St. Patrick's Day traditions that have nothing to do with beer-swilling revelry.(Robert S Cooper/Savannah Morning News via AP)

Its history dates back to ancient Ireland when the shamrock, also called the “seamroy” by the Celts, represented the rebirth of spring.

During the 1798 Irish Rebellion when the English began to conquer Irish land and make laws against their language and practice of Catholicism, wearing the shamrock became a symbol of Irish nationalism, according to History.com.

But contrary to popular belief, Ireland’s national symbol isn’t the shamrock. It’s actually the harp, which you’ll find on Irish coins, state seals and the presidential flag.

And while green is the color most associated with Ireland today—arguably due to both the shamrock and Ireland’s lush nature—the national color of origin was actually a shade of blue used by the Order of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.

Why is the shamrock linked to St. Patrick’s Day?

A woman wearing tinted shamrock glasses watches the 243rd Anuual St. Patrick's Day Parade March 17, 2004 in New York City.(Photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images)

According to St. Patrick's Day lore, St. Patrick used the leaves of a shamrock as a metaphor for the holy trinity. Each leaf represented either the Father, the Son or the Holy Spirit.

Many representations of St. Patrick depict the patron saint with shamrocks tied to his robes, the Sun reported.

Others show him in pictures alongside shamrocks.

According to academic folklorist Jack Santino, some pictures of St. Patrick even present him driving the snakes out of Ireland—a popular, debunked legend associated with the Christian figure—with a cross in one hand and a spring of shamrocks in the other.

Trending - Most Read Stories

Superman trades cape for badge: Dean Cain sworn in as reserve police officer in Idaho

Published: Saturday, June 23, 2018 @ 4:02 AM

Actor Dean Cain was sworn in as a reserve police officer in Idaho.
Rich Polk/Getty Images for Variety
Actor Dean Cain was sworn in as a reserve police officer in Idaho.(Rich Polk/Getty Images for Variety)

Superman has changed uniforms.

>> Read more trending news

Actor Dean Cain, who played the Man of Steel in the show “Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,” was recently sworn in as a reserve officer in Idaho, Fox News reported.

Cain, 51, was sworn in as a reserve for the St. Anthony Police Department, Fox News reported. The Idaho State Police tweeted the news Tuesday, showing a series of photos of the swearing-in ceremony.

Trending - Most Read Stories

Oregon man wins lottery jackpot with 'mistake ticket'

Published: Saturday, June 23, 2018 @ 1:16 AM

A man in Oregon is much richer after buying a lottery ticket that was printed by mistake.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A man in Oregon is much richer after buying a lottery ticket that was printed by mistake.(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A convenience store clerk last week offered an Oregon man a chance to buy two lottery tickets that were printed by mistake. The man bought one and left, then thought better of it and returned to buy the other one.

>> Read more trending news

It was a decision for which he would be richly rewarded.

That second ticket Charles Svitak bought June 16 at a 7-Eleven store earned him a $7.3 million payday in Oregon’s Megabucks game, KDRV reported.

"When I checked the ticket on my computer I couldn't believe it," Svitak told The Oregonian. "The first thing I thought is that I had worked my last graveyard shift."

Svitak, who works in Medford, took the lump sum option, which was for $3.65 million, KDRV reported.

Patrick Johnson, public affairs officer at the Oregon Lottery, told the Oregonian that the tickets were not Quick Picks, where numbers are randomly generated by the computer.

Svitak did not tell his wife about the winnings. He went to Salem to get the check and then bought a truck.

"On the way home I got a new truck and put the oversized check they gave me on the windshield," Svitak told the Oregonian

Svitak showed his wife the check and truck when he returned home.

"She hasn't stopped giggling since," Svitak told KDRV.

Trending - Most Read Stories

Giant spoon erected in front of pharmaceutical company to protest opioid addiction

Published: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 10:57 PM

What You Need To Know: Opioids

A giant spoon was left in front of a pharmaceutical company in protest by a Connecticut artist.

>> Read more trending news

The 800-pound, 11-foot-long steel spoon symbolizes a much heavier burden for two artists.

"A symbol of the negative emotion I felt of the opioid addiction of my brother, Danny," Westwood native Domenic Esposito said. "For the last 14 years, we have been dealing with it.”

Esposito traveled to Connecticut to work with art gallery owner Fernando Alvarez to make the sculpture, and then move it to the front of Purdue Pharma in Stamford, Connecticut.

“I’ve gotten a lot of tweets and messages about this," Esposito said. "Everyone knows what the missing spoon is who has family members that were affected by this.”

Earlier in June, Attorney General Maura Healey filed a lawsuit against Purdue on behalf of the state.

The lawsuit accuses the maker of oxycontin of illegally promoting the use of opioids and misrepresenting the risks of addiction and death connected to the drug.

It was the first lawsuit that also names the drug maker's executives and directors.

Purdue has denied the allegations and released a statement on the protest.

“We share the protestors’ concern about the opioid crisis, and respect their right to peacefully express themselves," the protest said.

Gallery owner Fernando Alvarez said the crimes are never punished, and changes need to occur.

"No one ever goes to jail for these things and that’s why the epidemic continues to happen," Alvarez said. "We are talking about real lives.”

Alvarez ended up in handcuffs on Friday for a minor charge of obstructing free passage. 

City workers using heavy equipment hauled away the giant spoon, but the two men hope the weight of the message stays.

Drugs are prepared to shoot intravenously by a user addicted to heroin. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)(Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
The spoon will become a part of the exhibit at the Alvarez Gallery in Stamford.

Trending - Most Read Stories

Woman accused of embezzling more than $150,000 from a doctor's office

Published: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 11:24 PM

Ciera Garvin (Tulsa County Jail)
Ciera Garvin (Tulsa County Jail)

The Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting a woman for eight counts of embezzlement.

>> Read more trending news

Officials said Ciera Garvin, 31, embezzled $153,000 from the doctor’s office where she worked over a period of seven years.

Garvin turned herself in to the Tulsa County Jail.

Investigators said the doctor noticed on her tax forms that Garvin made too much money and said she discovered Garvin had altered her hours to overpay herself by $8,000 to $10,000.

Investigators said based on a forensic audit, they believe Garvin skimmed all the cash co-payments from patients and kept them rather than depositing them, along with co-payments made via credit and debit cards.

Police said Garvin had been doing it since at least 2011.

Fraud detectives said they believe it’s a growing problem and have arrested at least five office managers from doctors’ offices for embezzlement over the past few years.

A few months ago, the Tulsa Police Department fraud unit teamed up with the Tulsa Attorney General’s Office to have them prosecute some of the repeat offenders and larger cases. TPD said this case involved such a large amount of money that it was the first case in the partnership that the AG’s Office will prosecute.

Garvin has bonded out of jail. Her attorney, Chad Greer, said they have no comment.

Trending - Most Read Stories