Shamrock v four-leaf clover: what is the difference?

The shamrock is an iconic symbol of Irish culture and heritage. It first became famous as the symbol of St Patrick, who himself has blossomed to become a symbol of Irishness – bold, defiant, and always flourishing. The shamrock is said to symbolise Irish identity to the world, whether through the national airline or the national rugby team. Although the shamrock is world-famous, some still get it confused with something similar yet distinctly different – the four-leaf clover.

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What is a shamrock?

The word shamrock originates from the Irish Gaelic word ‘seamrog’, which means ‘little clover’. What makes the shamrock special is the distinct three leaves. As the old stories go, St Patrick used the shamrock in his mission to convert the Irish Celts of his homeland. He used it as a teaching tool to explain the Holy Trinity, with each leaf representing a different aspect of God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. A non-religious origin says that the three leaves stand for faith, hope and love and that they will wither and die if they are planted outside Ireland

What is a four-leaf clover?

If you have found a clover with four leaves, you surely have the luck of the Irish. The fourth leaf is said to be where the luck comes from, with four-leaf clovers representing God’s grace because they are so difficult to find. It is also said that a four-leaf clover was the only thing Eve took with her when she left the Garden of Eden. The four-leaf clover is a mutation of the traditional clover plant, so it is very rare. A four-leaf clover is definitely not the same as a shamrock!

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If you are looking for St Patricks Day gifts, make sure to double-check everything before you buy. Take a good look at the symbol on your hat or on your necklace – does the symbol there have three leaves or four? If it is just a lucky clover, try to find the perfect gift for St Patricks Day for her at Shamrock Gifts or another stockist.

Knowing the difference between a four-leaf clover and a shamrock could spare your blushes this St Patrick’s Day as you try to explain yourself when it comes to this traditional and historical Irish symbol.

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